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Contador’s formula for great grand tours: Short stages, no power meters

Alberto Contador loves the trend toward short, mountainous grand tour stages. He also wants power meters banned from racing.

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TUCSON, Arizona (VN) — Speaking to journalists on a wide range of topics at the Polartec-Kometa team camp, Alberto Contador applauded the Tour de France for embracing the shorter stage format that has become popular to spice up grand tours.

“When we have shorter stages it is easier for more people to attack and break a very strong team,” Contador said when asked about the 65-kilometer stage 17 across three Pyrenean mountains in the 2018 Tour.

“Because for 65 kilometers you can fight. You have something. You have 200 kilometers with two long climbs at the end, it is difficult to attack from the beginning of the stage.”

The 2017 Tour included a 101km route on stage 13 and Contador attacked straight from the beginning. Although he didn’t win, many hailed the race as the Tour’s most exciting stage.

“With this system, I think some people maybe look and go 100 percent from the start of the race [to get in the breakaway] and another wait until the last kilometers,” he continued, saying that he wishes the Tour had introduced short stages sooner. “With 65 kilometers you can play more in some moment and have some different things.”

The Spaniard also reiterated his belief that power meters should be banned in racing.

“I believe 100 percent in the power meter for training, but racing, in my opinion, this is a limitation in attacking in some moments,” Contador said. “… It’s crucial to look at the power meter [in training]. In the race, in my opinion in certain situations, it can be a decision. But of course, for training it is crucial. Also, if you want to look at the true level of your riders you need the power meter. There is no system better than this.”

When Team Sky’s dominance was addressed in the Q&A session, Contador said he believed its riders are beatable.

“One thing for cycling is that every year there is more mathematics, but you cannot control everything, especially in the final,” Contador said. “We are all persons and can have some problems or bad days.

“With Team Sky it is very difficult because they always have a strong team and the teammates have the same level or are some days more strong than the leader in some moments. For sure with this, it is more difficult to attack or with a bad day of the leader and do a big difference.”

Contador added, “[Team Sky] have a very good system, but of course, I think the big difference is the budget, which is two times more average of other teams at the WorldTour level. Maybe you put a limit of money for salaries, maybe it is more hard to buy every year strong rider because you say ‘OK I take this, but I cannot take this.’ It is not easy, the solution.”

UCI President David Lappartient has also suggested that a salary cap would benefit cycling.

The seven-time grand tour winner Contador has no regrets when reflecting on his 15-year pro career, but he admitted he had looked forward to retirement. Although, he joked he has been traveling more than when he was a racer, leaving little time to relax.

After riding with his team in Tucson, he attended the Giro d’Italia’s 2018 route presentation in Milan. Interestingly, that race eschews the short, mountainous stages Contador favors, but perhaps he had a chance to bend the ear of race director Mauro Vegni during his visit to Italy.

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