Alberto Contador: Volta a Catalunya line-up 'as good as Tour de France'

Tinkoff leader Alberto Contador says that he's been suffering from a cold after Paris-Nice and may not be at his best in Volta a Catalunya (March 21-27)

Alberto Contador attacks on the final stage of the 2016 Paris-Nice (Watson)
(Image credit: Watson)

Alberto Contador has given his approval of the 2016 Volta a Catalunya start list, saying that it is worthy of the Tour de France.

The Tinkoff Grand Tour champion will line up against the likes of reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Sky), Paris-Nice winner Geraint Thomas (Sky), Vuelta a España winner Fabio Aru (Astana), Movistar's Nairo Quintana and last year's Catalunya winner, Richie Porte (BMC).

"The level of the line-up can only be matched, probably, by the Tour de France," Contador said.

"There are so many rivals that there isn't any in particular that can be singled out, because virtually all teams will bring a favourite, who will be flanked by a very strong squad."

>>> Volta a Catalunya 2016 preview

However, Contador goes into the Spanish WorldTour race with a question mark over his health after admitting that he has been suffering with a cold since Paris-Nice, where he placed second overall behind Thomas after a nail-biting mountain battle on the final stage.

Alberto Contador wins stage 5 of the 2016 Volta ao Algarve

Alberto Contador won stage five of the Volta ao Algarve - his sole victory so far this season
(Image credit: Watson)

"A lot of us that were there [Paris-Nice] got a cold," said Contador. "I was one of them and for that reason, this week I focused myself, above all, on trying to recover in order to be able to take the start at the Volta a Catalunya."

Contador has picked out the race's two stages featuring mountain-top finishes for the overall contenders to make their mark, particularly considering that there is no time trial stage.

"The two summit finishes will mark the race," Contador confirmed. "La Molina isn't really tough and differences there are always slim, although this year there are two mountain passes. As far as Port Ainé is concerned, I'm not familiar with it. I think it's quite an irregular climb but since the previous day we would have already climbed various mountain passes, it will be the stage to mark the race the most.

"However, three more days will remain in which we will have to be very attentive."

Watch: Men's WorldTour contenders 2016

Contador has hinted that 2016 may be his last full season before retirement, although he may continue to race for his development squad into 2017.

Volta a Catalunya is a race that is one of the few missing from Contador's list of victories. Contador stood on the top step of the podium in the 2011 edition, but the victory was one of those stripped after he was banned for failing a test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France.

The 2016 Volta a Catalunya starts on Monday, March 21 and concludes on Sunday, March 27.

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