Contador targets Tour, Vuelta in 2014

Five-time grand tour winner aims for a double in 2014, with Nicolas Roche targeting the Giro d'Italia

Alberto Contador is targeting the Tour de France yellow that has eluded him since 2010, and will open his 2014 season at Portugal’s Volta ao Algarve in February.

“I’ll then race Tirreno-Adriatico, followed by the Volta a Catalunya and then the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) in April,” Contador said Tuesday at the team’s presentation in the Canary Islands. “I’ll have a break before coming back for the Dauphiné in June, followed by the Tour and Vuelta [a España].”

Contador, the 2012 Vuelta champion, won two grand tours in 2008, when he was victorious at the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta. If he is to win his first grand tour in two seasons, Contador will do so with the backing of a new-look Tinkoff-Saxo team, now owned by Oleg Tinkov and directed by former team owner Bjarne Riis.

“We have many [grand tour ambitions],” said Riis. “We hope Alberto is ready for the top. He seems strong and is going well, and hopefully something happens at the Tour and the Vuelta. He’s definitely stronger than last year and we have a powerful team around him.”

Among those ambitions will be a run at the Giro podium for Irishman Nicolas Roche. The three-week Italian tour starts in Belfast.

“It’s a new challenge for me, because I’ve never gone for form so early in the year,” said Roche. “The last five or six years, I’ve either gone for the Tour or the Vuelta, so I’ve always taken an easier or less-in-form beginning to the year. That’s quite exciting.”