Merckx backs Contador's Giro-Tour bid; Sky's Lopez not sure it will go ahead

Eddy Merckx says there's no reason why Alberto Contador can't win both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in the same season

Eddy Merckx awards Alberto Contador the pink jersey at the 2008 Giro d'Italia. Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Eddy Merckx has backed Alberto Contador to succeed in his quest to win both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France this season, but Team Sky are reportedly not convinced the attempt will even take place.

Speaking to Spanish newspaper MARCA, five-time Tour champion, Merckx, insisted his form in France was always better if he raced the Italian tour beforehand.

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Merckx was no stranger to racing two Grand Tours in a season, winning the Giro-Tour double on four of the five occasions he entered both (he was disqualified the other time) and taking both the Vuelta a Espana and Giro in 1973.

"For me, going to the Giro is the best possible preparation for the Tour,” Merckx said. “It is not as fast as the French race, only mountainous. And I know from experience.

“I did much better in the Tour if I had ridden the Giro beforehand. I think the others, Froome, Nibali and Quintana should [attempt the double] too.”

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He added: “There is no reason he should get tired. You know all the time that you have between the two races? Seriously, [he shouldn't be] tired at all. You can even go to the Tour of Switzerland. Anyway, he will have more than enough time to recover. That this is cycling, not soccer!”

Meanwhile, Chris Froome’s Tour domestique David Lopez claimed that people within Team Sky would not be surprised if Contador doesn’t even enter the Giro.

Lopez told MARCA on Tuesday: "Contador in the Giro? We at Sky do not believe that he will. In the end he may decide to stake everything on the Tour. It would not be the first time that he says one thing and does another.”

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.