Having taken a break from racing after winning the Giro d'Italia in May, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is back in action at the Route du Sud from Thursday, June 18, as he starts to prepare for the Tour de France in July.
Contador is aiming for the Giro-Tour double, with the first part of that successfully completed he turns his attention to regaining his form after 15 days rest after a demanding ride in Italy.
"Physically and muscularly I still feel the wear from the Giro, especially that of the final week, which was very hard," said Contador. "As a result, I tried above all to rest as much as possible during this time. I focused on recovering and I have only done three days of specific training to activate my body."
Contador admits that he has no idea what condition he is in after taking time off racing, and will take a day-by-day approach at the Route du Sud, which takes place over four days in Southern France. Many of Contador's rivals, including Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Chris Froome (Sky) were racing in the Critérium du Dauphiné last week - with Froome taking the victory.
"I can't know now in what form I will be. I took great care of all the details, both rest and nutrition, which is somewhat complicated, because you have to eat little, just the opposite of what happens in a competition.
"The most important thing is that I look forward to racing in the Route du Sud because it will give me speed in the legs and I will be in motion again."
Stage three of the race features three first category climbs, including an ascent of the Port de Balès 20km before the finish line in Bagnères-de-Luchon. Contador has been staying in Lugano and Livigno since the Giro, and has been using the mountains to train.
"It's a good place, with iconic mountain passes very close, such as Gavia and Stelvio, but also with the possibility to train in flat terrain at an altitude of 1,800 metres. I took advantage of this to prepare my return to competition, although I will face this race in a more relaxed mode."
The UCI 2.1-ranked Route du Sud takes place from Thursday June 18 to Sunday June 21. The Tour de France starts in Utrecht, Netherlands, on July 4.
Video: Mark Cavendish on the 2015 Tour de France
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