Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Contador Training In The Pyrenees For Vuelta

Alberto Contador completed a training foray into the Pyrenees Thursday, a visit designed as a study of Stages 7 and 8 of the upcoming Vuelta a España. The expedition to Andorra included Contador’s Asturian teammates Chechu Rubiera, Benjamin Noval, and Dani Navarro, and Sérgio Paulinho of Portugal.

“Yesterday we rode the final 120 km of Stage 7: We climb La Rabassa twice, the second time with an extra four kilometers at the end--a first for the Vuelta. It will be a very difficult stage because of the cumulative kilometers in our legs, especially if it’s hot.

“The first two kilometers of the climb are really hard, but it gets easier after the sixth kilometer. The last part smooths out and there’s a chance to recover a little.”

“In the second part things will be determined by how the legs feel after 200 kilometers. Everything depends on the rhythm set at the beginning of the stage, but the last four km are not as hard, so it stands to reason it will come down to a small group of three or four riders. It will be my first time up this mountain, I only remember it from the year that Zarrabeitia got his finger cut off in the descent.”

On Thursday, Contador and his teammates rode 133 km of Stage 8, from the top of the Puerto del Cantó to the finish at Pla de Beret, reported press manager Jacinto Vidarte.

“El Cantó looked really hard to me. We took our bikes to the top, and after the descent we climbed the Puerto de Enviny, which was no big deal. We went on through a fairly long valley before La Bonaigua, which is tough. Today they were resurfacing the road. We were able to get through, but with 19 km of that plus the heat, it was really difficult," said Contador.

“On the other hand, I was a little disappointed with the Pla de Beret. It’s not very difficult, the road surface is good, and the last one-and-a-half kilometers goes downhill. Nobody will get much of a margin there.”

Alberto has a clear mental picture after these two days of reconnaissance. “In some ways I’m disappointed with the Pyrenees, because if it’s going well, there’s no place to grab the margin that I’d like, and if it’s not going well, you can limit the damages because there will be a lot of chances to get organized and ride defensively."

“These are not mountains for pure climbers. The only danger is that if you’re not on a good day, you could lose the general. But I don’t believe they’ll be decisive in winning the race."

Contador will scout out the mountain stages of Asturias next week, including a climb of the Anglirú on Thursday and the summit of Fuentes de Invierno on Friday. He’s hoping to find a different scenario there.

“Asturias will be much more decisive than the Pyrenees. Some of the favorites will be dropped here, but the real differences in the general will happen there, in Asturias.”

The Vuelta a España 2008 will take place August 30 - September 21.

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