Sitting almost three minutes down on race leader Nairo Quintana, Tinkoff's Alberto Contador admits he's a long way from winning the race

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), on the first rest day in Gijón, admitted that the chances of winning his fourth Vuelta a España are almost over after losing time to Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome in the first week.

Quintana leads the overall by 57 seconds over his Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde and 58 over Froome. Contador sits in fifth at 2-54 minutes.

“We are very far off in the classification,” said Contador. “The chances for victory are very small.”

Contador took the Vuelta title in 2008, 2012 and 2014, adding to a palmarès that includes two Tours de France and two Giros d’Italia wins.

This season, however, he has run out of luck. He crashed twice in the opening two days of the Tour and abandoned after a week. In the Vuelta, he lost ground in the important stages and crashed in a sprint stage on Friday.

On stage 10, Contador and Quintana left Froome behind. He attacked constantly, but ‘El Pistolero’, as he is known in Spain, perhaps fired too much. When Froome recovered, he caught and passed a drained Contador and left him behind by 44 seconds.

“Maybe now I should analyse the tactics, maybe I should have been more cautious. I was thinking about these three stages, and that sometimes I am too impulsive. When I went, maybe I should have been more careful, but that’s me and it’s hard for me to change my style of racing,” Contador said.

“I have to take a chance if I can, but the stages ahead of us now are limited in chances to attack. There are not too many tactical options.

“I am going to try and give my maximum. I am conscious that I am three minutes from Nairo, and he is demonstrating that he is very strong, and this makes it even more complicated.”