Vuelta a Espana leader Alberto Contador says that the World Championships course in Ponferrada does not suit him

Alberto Contador, who appears on his way to winning the Vuelta a España ahead of Alejandro Valverde and Chris Froome, renounced the World Championships at home in Ponferrada, Spain. At a press conference yesterday, the Spaniard of team Tinkoff-Saxo said that the course in the country’s northwest does not suit him.

“The Worlds course is not in any way suited to my style,” Contador said. “There are other riders who I think can help the Spanish team more and should go. I’d rather give my place to them.”

‘El Pistolero’ from Madrid raced the last two editions, 2013 in Florence and 2012 in Valkenburg, which were both harder circuits. Experts say that this year’s 254-kilometre race (14 laps of 18.2km) suits riders like Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) – strong sprinters. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) who is more suited to flat sprints will not race.

The course climbs wide roads and descends quickly through gentle sweeping bends. The first climb covers about five kilometres at 5 per cent. The second one goes for one kilometre at 8 per cent and leaves five kilometres to the finish. Italy’s director, Davide Cassani compared it to Benidorm in 1992 or Madrid in 2005.

Contador counts five Grand Tour wins, one in each of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, and appears ready to take another on Sunday. He currently leads team Movistar’s Valverde by 1-36 minutes and Sky’s Froome by 1-39.

His best one-day results came in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro di Lombardia, placing ninth in both. In the 2012 Worlds he placed 37th and in 2013, he pulled out. Last year in Florence, Spaniards Joaquím Rodríguez placed second and Valverde third behind winner Rui Costa of Portugal.

“I think there are other riders that Spain can have more confidence in,” Contador said, “like Alejandro Valverde or Joaquím Rodríguez.”

Contador explained that after the Vuelta he wants to rest because it has been a “tough season.” At the Tour de France, he appeared ready to take on eventual winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) but crashed on the wet roads leading to La Planche des Belles Filles, broke his right tibia and abandoned.

The Vuelta is his first race back. Contador added, “I did not know how well I could respond. The first week was very hard, and I suffered a lot.”