The Giro d’Italia/Tour de France double is the key motivativation more than anything else, says Alberto Contador, as he approaches the twilight of his career.
After 2014, the Spaniard realised that the rare feat was within his reach and something that he wanted on his palmarès before retiring in 2016. The challenge begins on Staurday on Italy’s riviera with the first stage of the Giro.
The Tinkoff-Saxo leader began the 2014 Tour de France as the top favourite with Team Sky’s Chris Froome, but both riders crashed and abandoned in the first week. They returned to race the Vuelta a España, where Contador won and created his plan for 2015.
“The Tour abandon indirectly had a big influence on doing the Giro and Tour this year,” Contador said.
“I went to the Vuelta last September without being in top condition and finally I got a very special win. That has given me the confidence to go for the Giro/Tour double this year.”
On wet roads leading to La Planche des Belles Filles in the Tour’s stage 10, Contador fell at an estimated 76.8kph and fractured his right tibia. Fortunately, his injury did not require surgery, but it meant that he was out of competition until the Vuelta began five weeks later in August.
‘El Pistolero’ still managed to top Froome and compatriot Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to claim another overall title.
The 32-year-old is the best of his generation in terms of Grand Tour racing with six titles: one from the Giro, two from the Tour and three from the Vuelta. That number would have been eight had he not served a doping ban and lost his 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro titles.
No-one since Marco Pantani in 1998 has won the Giro/Tour double and only seven have done so, including the greats Italian Fausto Coppi, Frenchman Jacques Anquetil and Belgian Eddy Merckx.
If Contador won the Giro/Tour double he would further cement his name in cycling’s history books much like Sir Bradley Wiggins would with the Hour Record.
“In other years, the Tour was enough for me and that motivation to win, it was enough. That’s not the same anymore. This [double challenge] is something new, it motivates me more.”
He explained that he believes that he can give 100% over three weeks of the Giro, which usually includes bad weather in the closing Alpine stages, and then turn around and do the same against rivals like Froome and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), both who are aiming solely for the Tour in 2015.
“I’m focussed on giving my all in both the Giro and the Tour, I give them both the same importance, I see them all as a whole,” Contador said.
“I’m not going to calculate [my efforts in the Giro] and in a Grand Tour you haven’t really any options. You have to go out, do your racing, rest afterwards.”