Cycling’s top stage racer, Alberto Contador, has unveiled his early race program for 2010, and revealed that he hasn’t ruled out two major Tours next season.
Speaking to Spanish sports daily MARCA, Contador also says that he believes next season will be “another very difficult year.”
The Tour de France is, unsurprisingly, the top objective for the 27-year-old, who says he will almost certainly kick off his season at the Tour of the Algarve in February. Contador won the Portuguese race in 2009.
“I want to have a good level at Paris-Nice and fight for the win there,” Contador added. “Then hopefully I’ll have even better condition for the Tour of Catalunya [in late March] and I’ll be able to hold my form all the way through to the Tour of the Basque Country.”
Contador has ruled out doing the Giro d’Italia, but says that the Tour of Spain may be possible, “depending on how things have gone on in the Tour.”
The Spaniard has only once done two Grand Tours in the same season, in 2008 when he won the Giro and the Vuelta.
“I know it’s going to be another very tough year,” Contador said, “but after everything that happened in 2009, it won’t be so hard.”
“I recognise our squad’s not as powerful as other years, but we’ll have to work hard in the training camps so we know what we want to get and how.”
“I’ll try to be even better in the 2010 Tour than I was in 2009. I’ve only been training for two weeks and I already feel very good. I’ve still got room for improvement.”
Asked if he had calculated how many more Tours he might win, Contador said all he had worked out was “how many more I can take, and that’s about six or seven. But it all depends on how long I race for.”
“My main objective will always be the Tour, but whenever compatible I’ll do the Giro or the Vuelta too, or – if it’s mountainous – the World Championships.”
As for 2010, should Contador take part in the Tour of Catalunya, the Spanish ProTour event could be the first time he coincides in a race with Lance Armstrong – who is reported to have said he may take part – since the Tour de France last year.
Spain’s oldest stage race, in 2010 Catalunya has shifted dates to late March, replacing the Tour of Castille and Leon – where Armstrong broke his collarbone this spring.
If they both ride, Catalunya could provide the first indication in 2010 of their comparative strength on the climbs. The weeklong race traditionally has at least two very tough mountain stages in the Pyrenees, although in the spring, the colder weather may force the organisers to come up with a less difficult route. For now the only confirmed start or finish is in the town of Ascó.