After comfortably rolling across the finish line of the 2015 Giro d’Italia in Milan on Sunday with almost two minutes on his closest rival Fabio Aru (Astana), Alberto Contador’s (Tinkoff-Saxo) attention immediately turned to his next challenge, the Tour de France.
The Spaniard is aiming to do what only seven riders have done before him, win both the Giro and the Tour in the same year, as he plans to bow out of cycling for good at the end of the 2016 season.
Contador says he’ll now return to Spain, where he spent a month in Tenerife at altitude training ahead of the Giro, and plans to be back on his bike by the end of the week in preparation for the Tour.
“My Tour de France starts now,” Contador said at the end of stage 21. “My preparation starts now.
“Tonight, to the extent to which it is possible, I’ll go and rest as early as possible. Tomorrow I want to go to Spain. I want to take three or four days before I start concentrating again on the Tour, in complete isolation. So tomorrow I’m looking forward to a nice day.”
The seven time Grand Tour winner knows he’ll face stiffer competition than he had at the Giro when the Tour starts in Utrecht on July 4, with Chris Froome (Team Sky), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) all chasing the same glory.
He faced more of a challenge than many expected at the Giro, particularly from Astana who piled on the pressure with both Aru and Mikel Landa. But Contador appeared unshakeable until the penultimate stage on the Colle delle Finestre, and says there isn’t much he needs to correct ahead of his Tour campaign.
“No, I don’t think [I made any errors],” he said.
“Perhaps I see it like this: there were days when I could have been more ambitious. I decided to to ride more tactically, and I think it was the right thing to do, in the end, because look at yesterday (stage 20): I had a bad day because my strength was declining.
“No, there is nothing I think that I could improve on for the Tour. Perhaps my main memory of the Giro is the leg pain with which I finished the race, and the tired body.”
Contador’s return to competition is set to be at the French race Route de Sud on June 18, while rivals Froome and Nibali will begin the Tour build-up in earnest at the Critérium du Dauphiné, which starts this weekend.
Nairo Quintana will head to the week-long Tour de Suisse for his warm-up, as the riders prepares for what looks to be a mouthwatering clash at this year’s Tour.
Highlights from the 2015 World Ports Classic