Alberto Contador has said that he is in a much better position than last year in the lead-up to the Critérium du Dauphiné this weekend, and the Tour de France in July. He admits that he felt ‘destroyed’ after winning the Giro d’Italia in May 2015.
Despite feeling good, the 33-year-old Tinkoff team leader and multiple Grand Tour champion said that he is expecting some ‘tough days’ in the mountainous Dauphiné, where he will face Tour nemesis Chris Froome (Sky).
The Spaniard has been training in the period leading up to the Dauphiné to work on his strength, and is hoping to move into better form during the race.
“It has been a busy past few weeks, trying to build a good base, always thinking about the Tour de France,” said Contador.
“I primarily worked on building my strength and I hope everything goes well. The Dauphiné will be important to build speed in the legs, which is what will still be missing the most, but the most important thing is that there haven’t been any setbacks and that’s always good news.
“The goal is to fine-tune my body for the Tour de France,” Contador continued. “Of course, a lot of work has already been done and that will be seen, but there will be tough days in which I will be able to see where I stand compared to the rivals.
“After the Dauphiné is over, I will know whether I have to give more intensity to my training or if we have to be a little more cautious. I feel much better than last year. At this point I was destroyed, very tired because of the demands of the Giro d’Italia. I feel much better now.”
The 2016 Dauphiné kicks off on Sunday, June 5, with a mountain time trial prologue in Les Gets. the 4km ascent could create large time gaps between riders before they even hit the first stage.
“It’s very, very hard and demanding. Perhaps it is noteworthy that most of the summit finishes are not very hard, but on the other hand they are preceded by other very demanding climbs,” said Contador of the Dauphiné route.
As well as 2015 Tour winner Froome, who goes into the Dauphiné as defending champion, Contador will come up against Fabio Aru (Astana), Romain Bardet (Ag2r), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Richie Porte (BMC). Contador has never won the Dauphiné.
The Dauphiné finishes on Sunday, June 12.