Spain’s Alberto Contador is working on his time trial position ahead of what’s to be a controversial season. He is taking tips from former Tour de France winner and new team boss, Saxo Bank’s Bjarne Riis.
“He had a nice position already and was not keen on having it changed,” Riis told Denmark’s BT newspaper. “I said, ‘Alberto, I have an idea of how I think we can do better, we can just go back again if it does not work.'”
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Riis helped many of his cyclists at team CSC/Saxo Bank improve, including Grand Tour cyclists Ivan Basso and Andy Schleck. Basso spent much of his off-season one year ago trying to achieve his time trial position from his years, 2004 to 2006, with Riis.
Schleck and Basso have moved on to lead other teams, and Riis now has the best Grand Tour rider in his roster. He’s already worked with Contador at the team’s training camps, ahead of his debut at the Tour of Algarve.
“I moved him around a bit,” added Riis, “and he improved with 1.75 seconds per kilometre.”
Contador placed 15th in Algarve’s time trail. At 21’38”, he was 45 seconds behind stage winner, German Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad), which seven seconds faster than last year. Last year, he placed second with 21’45” and won the race’s overall classification. Contador, though, has other issues on his mind.
He signed with Riis in August, shortly before the International Cycling Union (UCI) announced he tested positive for Clenbuterol at the Tour de France. Contador spent all winter fighting the charges and rejoiced when Spanish authorities acquitted him earlier this month. The UCI or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), however, will likely to appeal Spain’s decision.
Riis is making headway despite Contador’s concern of appeal and his turbulent history with team Astana.
“Confidence is not something you just pull a slot machine,” said Riis. “With the history he has been through, I can understand, he does not have unconditional trust in people, I would not either. But quietly, he’s opened up and sees that we want the best for him.”
Contador will continue to test himself at the Tour of Murcia, Friday through Sunday. The race features a 12.4-kilometre time trial on Sunday.