Friday, March 5, 2010

Contador will vye for another title in the Race to the Sun

Alberto Contador will begin his second race of the season on Sunday at Paris-Nice, a competition that, since his victory in 2007, has always had a special significance for him. The occasion also marks his first return to French roads since winning the Tour, which has been another source of motivation for reaching the start line in good physical condition. “I’m arriving in a good state of form,” says the leader of Astana, “although I’ve only done a little more work since the Volta ao Algarve.”

How’s your current condition?

I’ve had a cold, I think as a consequence of the rain we had to put up with in Portugal, but in spite of everything, I think that I’m in good form.

What have you been doing since your victory in the Algarve? What has changed since then?

I’ve rested a little more than planned, because it was a tough tour, also because I had the cold. Since then I’ve done some training with the idea of brushing up on the work I did during the winter, but I don’t know if I’m better or worse than I was in Portugal, because things were already going really well there.

In Paris-Nice 2009 you suffered a spectacular bonk, do you have a desire for revenge or is that just an entertaining story from the past?

No, I don’t desire revenge. That was a pretty valuable experience that served to let me know that you can’t be careless about anything and that you have to take a stoic view of the race. It cost me the victory in 2009, yes, but an important experience came with it.

What are your goals, will you fight to win?

Of course I’m going to try to fight to win with the team that I’m going with, to be in the fight, although it’s really difficult to win and there are riders who are very strong and who’ve got more miles in their legs than I do, like Luis León or Valverde, who’ve done more days of competition. The goal, in any case, is to be there.

Who are the favorites?

There are riders that I think are farther along than I am, like Luis León or Valverde. Alejandro already knows what it's like to win nearby, in the Tour of the Mediterranean, and he’s also been in Australia and Almería. At the beginning of the year, you really notice having more days of competition. But in a race like Paris-Nice, there’s a wide range of favorites. There’s also Samuel Sánchez, Frank Schleck, Sandy Casar and Chavanel, among many others.

How does this edition’s route seem, what are the key points?

It’s a good route, but the difference is that the summit finish, at Mende, is short and very explosive. I already climbed it in 2007 and the time differences will be minimal. This year the victory will be decided by a few seconds and the time bonuses will probably be important. The last three days in the mountains will be very difficult to control, just like it always is in Paris-Nice. The podium will be decided by a very slim margin.

The time trial is coming up on Sunday, do you have the new bicycle ready?

I hope that I will not have to use the one from the Algarve. It still hasn’t arrived from the United States, but it’ll arrive in time and I hope to do the best crono I can. The route doesn’t have any climbs, there are eight pretty flat kilometers, but I still hope to be with the front-runners there. Last year I won, but I don’t think that I’ll be at the same level this year. (Official press release: AC press room)

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