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September 2, 2014

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LA VUELTA: REST DAY PRESS CONFERENCE

September 1, 2014 - Contador says he will try to win the Vuelta


Press conference, first rest day

Alberto Contador held a press conference on the first rest day of La Vuelta (Jesķs Rubio/as.com)

Alberto Contador gave a press conference today after doing reconnaissance of tomorrowís time trial course, where he hopes to confirm the good physical feelings of these first stages. ďTomorrow is a good test to see exactly what my form is like,Ē said the leader of Tinkoff-Saxo, ďbut likewise, I donít want to deceive myself and come to wrong conclusions after yesterdayís stage.Ē

What Alberto Contador did acknowledge is that, as of today, he is ďin a position to say that Iím going to try to win the Vuelta. Whether I have the legs or not is a different thing. Until yesterday, even until the final kilometers, I didnít see it like that, and I also have to wait and see how I am tomorrow. Since the beginning of the race, Iíve just thought about getting through the days. I think that Iím getting better, and itís been after seeing this progress that Iíve been able say that I intend to try.Ē

What will change in the race now, from the strategic and also the mental point of view?
Neither will change much in the race, this is just about drawing up a balance sheet, seeing what situation I find myself in, and seeing the cards that I can play. There are people who have come here with more of a base of work than I have, and who can go further, like Froome and Quintana. Iím a question mark.

Is Froome still the main favorite, as you said at the beginning of the Vuelta?
No, the main favorites are the same as they were at the beginning, Quintana and Froome, who also has a time trial tomorrow that will go very well for him, not to mention Joaquim RodrŪguez and Alejandro Valverde. Regardless of what weíve seen so far, there are almost no time differences Ė theyíre ridiculous Ė and the favorites are still the same as they were at the beginning.

At present, are you feeling better or worse that in the 2012 Vuelta?
No, the truth is that I donít feel better. In 2012, the difference was that there was one particularly strong rider, Joaquim RodrŪguez, who always answered the changes of pace and attacked me in the finales. We still havenít seen mountain stages like those, but I think that he was better in 2012.

Are you better than your rivals, or is it that they are worse?
I havenít analyzed the SRM data from the climbs much, but I think that, owing to the heat in the early stages and to the rain yesterday, there have been more surprises. Iím improving every day and thatís good for me, but itís also true that I lack the confidence you get from having done a good job in preparation. We all still have to progress, Quintana and Froome, too.

What is the time trial like?
When you see the TT route in person it seems even harder than on paper. The first part is uphill, with a really tough section, and then it has a very rapid descent over a very irregular and difficult road. The last part, on the other hand, is for keeping a tucked position on the bike. Telling about it is pretty simple, but doing it will be really hard.

Do you feel freer coming to the Vuelta under these circumstances?
Iím not coming here under the same conditions as the Tour, but Iím going to stay the course. Whatever I get will be a prize, besides enjoying the warm support of the public. Of course itís not the same pressure, and thatís noticeable when thereís an breakaway, for example, which you see from a different point of view, without as much responsibility. There are others who are more likely favorites than I am, because I havenít been able to prepare for the race as it should be done.

Had you considered the possibility of coming to the Vuelta and then seeing that your knee didnít work? What would you have done in that case?
I had thought about it, and I still do, but the knee continues as is, and I still have some problems, although theyíre minimal. For example, the internal stitches that they put in are starting to stick out of my leg, and even though itís not terribly important, itís not going perfectly. When deciding to come to ride, I was aware that something could happen, but I really hope that everything continues to go as it has so far.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room


LA VUELTA: CONTADOR ATTACKS!

August 31, 2014 - Alberto takes a bite out of Froome and Valverde with a late attack in Stage 9


Contador attacked with strength in Stage 9

Contador attacked and dropped Froome and Valverde in Stage 9, but Purito and Quintana fought back (Jose Jordan/as.com)

Stage 9, Sunday, August 31: Carboneras de Guadazaůn - Aramůn Valdelinares 185km

Alberto Contador managed to distance some of the GC men today in the finale of Stage 9 to Valdelinares. When the time came for drawing conclusions, however, he was realistic and said that heís still not feeling as he would like. ďI saw some riders on the back foot, and I went out to give it a try. I still lack the condition to be able to maintain the rhythm at the maximum, but Iím very happy. I donít know exactly what the time differences have been, but for now the most important thing is not to catch cold, and to rest,Ē he said to recap the stage.

ďAny time you have the legs, you have to try,Ē said Contador, explaining his attack. ďI donít know yet what the time difference were, but I havenít prepared for the Vuelta a EspaŮa as an objective, instead Iím coming here on the rebound, as they say, at the last minute, without good form. Iím confident that Iíll improve day by day, but Iím aware that there are other riders who have prepared very carefully. Maybe today they didnít have a great day, but the Vuelta has only just begun.Ē

About any possible repercussions from this stage he preferred not to say much, nor did he consider it a psychological blow before the time trial. ďItís always important to be high up in the order, and if itís because youíve been able to drop your rivals, thatís best, but I donít think of it as very significant. Weíre not even halfway through the Vuelta and that was just an appetizer for the mountains. The whole Vuelta is still ahead of us,Ē he said.

Alberto had no predictions for the time trial coming up on the day after tomorrow, aside from saying that other riders will be better than he will. ďI donít know myself how Iíll be for the crono. Thatís where weíll really see what each personís form is like. In a normal stage, maybe you camouflage it a little more, but in a time trial, itís only you and your state of form. Weíre going to see. I hope to do a good crono, but I think that thereíll be people who are better than I am.Ē

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

ACCORDING TO...

Stephen de Jongh, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: ďIt was a very good day for Alberto and I think everyone saw a very strong Contador in the final. It was a bit of a nightmare in the rainy finale and we saw a lot of riders standing completely still. The first hour was very hard, we did over 47 km/h. It was never easy today, it was fast and they kept going full gas but we can be satisfied with today's result and now it's time to recover for the time trial Tuesday."

Oliver Zaugg, Contador's Swiss teammate: ďThe weather made the last climb really difficult today. The rain started on the descent before the final climb and made it really difficult to climb up to the mountain finish. Now, I think we're all looking forward to a rest day."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 9, 12th (2:16 Anacona - 4:34:14). Contador in GC, 2nd (0:03 Quintana - 35:58:05)

TOP 6: 1 Quintana, 2 Contador (0:03), 3 Valverde (0:08), 4 Anacona (0:09), 5 Froome (0:28), 6 RodrŪguez (0:30)

AUDIO COMMENTS 1 - AUDIO COMMENTS 2 - TICKER

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS - RACE ATLAS




LA VUELTA: TINKOFF-SAXO TEAMWORK GETS THE JOB DONE

August 30, 2014 - "Locomotive" Bennati provides life insurance for Contador in harrowing Stage 8


Tinkoff-Saxo teamwork in Vuelta Stage 8

Contador's team, especially Daniele Bennati, kept him safely among the front riders in Vuelta Stage 8 (lavuelta.com)

Stage 8, Saturday, August 30: Baeza - Albacete, 207km

Alberto Contadorís first words after todayís Vuelta Stage 8 were to thank his teammate, Daniele Bennati, who was with him constantly in the echelons of the final kilometers, and whom he called ďLocomotiveĒ for obvious reasons. ďBenna is life insurance on days like this. He kept me in a good position all the time and I can only say thanks to him. Heís a workhorse, and priceless. It was like, as they say, he was carrying me in his pocket. Itís important to stay together and in communication with him, because getting separated is completely useless.Ē

Alberto said that a stage like this is ďmentally and physically exhausting, from stress and from danger. In the end nothing happened and Iím glad because, all things considered, I felt pretty good. I was really scared in the final 50 kilometers because, I donít know why, it seemed like I had a puncture, and I thought that if I had to stop to change a wheel, thatíd be bad. But, well, we got through the day and now we have to rest because tomorrow will also be important.Ē

About the feeling that he had punctured, Contador explained, ďI noticed that the bike was bouncing a little. It had happened the first time Ė I changed wheels at Km 100 Ė and then I started having the same feeling again, but luckily there was no puncture.Ē

Alberto hopes that tomorrowís stage will be ďjust another day. Itís not an extremely hard climb and Iím going to get through it by doing my absolute best, recovering, and seeing what I can do in the time trial. Tomorrow is not overly complicated. Right now I have to take it one day at a time, see how I recover and nothing more. For now Iím very happy, I couldnít have imagined being in this position after eight days of racing, but thereís still a huge amount left,Ē said Alberto Contador about the race situation.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

ACCORDING TO...

Stephen de Jongh, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: "Well, to be honest, the first part of the stage was a little less than exciting but when the wind finally picked up and we started going, it turned into a rather thrilling finale. The boys were riding another fantastic stage in terms of staying in the front, being very alert and simply supporting Alberto. I'm in awe of Michael Valgren's performance. Considering this is his first pro season and his first Grand Tour, he's riding unbelievably well, but all the boys worked hard and well out there. Now, we're looking forward to tomorrow's mountain challenge and we're hoping that Alberto can hang on to the favorites of the race."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 8, 26th (s.t. Bouhanni - 4:29:00). Contador in GC, 3rd (0:18 Valverde - 31:21:20)

TOP SIX: 1 Valverde, 2, Quintana (0:15), 3 Contador (0:18), 4 Froome (0:20), 5 Chaves (0:41), 6 RodrŪguez

AUDIO COMMENTS - COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS - RACE ATLAS




TINKOFF-SAXO SOLID IN OPENING VUELTA TTT

August 23, 2014 - Contador able to keep pace with his team in first test of healing leg in competition


Warming up for Vuelta Stage 1 TTT

Warming up for the opening TTT (@tinkoffsaxo)

Stage 1, August 24: Jerez de la Frontera Ė Jerez de la Frontera, 12.6 km (TTT)

Alberto Contador gave a thumbs up to his performance and that of his team, Tinkoff-Saxo, today in the Stage 1 team time trial of the Vuelta a EspaŮa. ďI havenít been able to see the classification exactly yet, but I think that itís been a good result. The time difference to first place is 19 seconds, but more that that, Iím happy because I was able to follow the pace of my teammates, I was able to collaborate in the time trial and itís a good sign that in this short stage Iíve had no knee pain. I was looking forward to starting the race, and the time differences are not something that Iím overly concerned about, and even less today. Iím going to take it one day at a time and weíll see what happens,Ē said Contador after finishing the stage.

Alberto said that probably not many people wanted to risk too much in todayís stage. ďIt was a complicated time trial. If it had rained, it wouldíve been practically impossible. It was a route that demanded a lot of respect, with roundabouts that had shiny surfaces even without rain, from oil and diesel from cars, so Iím glad. We got through it without any problems and I think itís a good result. Iím also happy because I saw the whole team looking good, very focused, and that motivates me.Ē

For tomorrow, Alberto hopes, for starters, ďto see if thereís going to be any wind, because weíll have to be very careful, not only to keep to the front and not lose time, but rather, mainly, to avoid crashing Ė which is what worries me most in this first week Ė and be able to try to recover and see if I can do the end of the Vuelta the way I want,Ē concluded the Tinkoff-Saxo leader.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

PLAYBOOK

Tinkoff-Saxo were the penultimate team to leave the gate for the 12.6-km team time trial, a snaking course that took in at least 19 slippery roundabouts. They were followed only by the eventual stage winners, the Movistar team of main rivals Valverde and Quintana. Contador's team functioned well and crossed the line with its best face first (Daniele Bennati), arriving 7th of 22 teams.

Among the other favorites, Uran fared 11 seconds better than Contador, but all others lost a few seconds in relation to the Tinkoff-Saxo leader.

ACCORDING TO...

Stephen de Jongh, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: "Iím completely satisfied with this result. The boys rode really well together through the technically demanding course and even though itís only 12 kilometers, itís such a demanding discipline but we completed the stage with six riders. Itís a good way to start the Vuelta. Tomorrowís stage is a flat one but we have to pay attention to the wind as the crosswind sections could create chaos in the peloton."

More from Alberto: ďThis changes nothing, whatís important is to loosen up the legs. My heart was beating 200 beats per minute almost the entire crono because I lack a little training. Now itís time to recover as well as possible and improve day by day. I didnít think about the leg at all.Ē

ďWeíre close and we always like to be professional. It was more dangerous than normal due to the asphalt, but not a big deal.Ē

ďIím happy, the team was very strong and I was well protected during the whole route, but we have to take it one day at a time.Ē

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 1, 45th (0:19 Castroviejo - 14:13). Contador in GC, 45th (0:19 Castroviejo - 14:13)

TOP 5: 1 Castroviejo, 2 Valverde, 3 Amador, 4 Erviti, 5 J. Moreno

AUDIO COMMENTS - COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS - RACE ATLAS




"ONE DAY AT A TIME" FOR CONTADOR AT VUELTA

August 22, 2014 - Pre-race press conference: Tinkoff-Saxo leader will keep sights high as long as healing leg permits


Training for La Vuelta

Contador and the Tinkoff-Saxo boys do one last training session before the Vuelta starts on Saturday (AC press room)

Alberto Contador appeared today in a press conference prior to the start of the Vuelta a EspaŮa, during which he said that heís keeping his expectations sensible ďafter what Iíve been through and the little that Iíve trained before coming here. Of course Iím going to look not to lose time in the opening days, only if I lose time on some day will it be the moment to change strategies. This year the Vuelta is very high-level and many riders have come to fight for the victory, but Iím at a very different level than at the Tour,Ē said the Tinkoff-Saxo leader.

Are you afraid that other riders could ambush you to take advantage of your lack of preparation?

More than any ambush, it will be the race itself that could produce complicated situations. In the Vuelta the uphill finishes start very soon. There are already difficult finales in the third and fifth stages that could go very well for explosive riders like Valverde or Purito. Itís likely that I wonít be able to stay with them there.

If you get through the first ten days without losing time, should your rivals start to worry?

No, itís not a question of getting through the first ten days, but rather more like seeing how I recover, because the level here is very high and even though Iíve done only a few days of training, Iíve tried to take maximum advantage of them, so maybe Iím a little more tired than at other times. You never know what your bodyís answer will be, but if, after ten days, Iím still among the best, itíll be good news for me, more than anything, because I think that there are people who will be stronger.

What have the doctors said? Is it advisable to ride the Vuelta a EspaŮa?

Itís a risk. Whatís most recommended would be to stay at home and think about next year, but it was difficult for me to watch the Tour on television when I had prepared so well for it, and I was feeling especially excited about riding the Vuelta. So here I am. Dr. Manuel Leyes, who has treated my injury, recommended that I do one last MRI before coming here, but I told him that I didnít have much time available, and besides, I wasnít going to change my mind, no matter what the result. Anyway, I hope that riding the Vuelta doesnít have consequences and, in any case, there are fewer worries each day.Ē

Is the Vuelta a revalidation for you?

No, itís not a revalidation. Iím very happy with the season that Iíve had up till the Tour. Iíve done a flawless season and I arrived at the Tour in optimal condition. Now what I want is to enjoy the race and see what I can achieve, but nothing more.

Who do you see as the favorite and which stage could be the most important?

There are lots of riders with options on the victory, but I think that if he arrives at 100%, the favorite is Froome, because he has a very strong team and because heís very strong in the mountains and the time trial. As for the stages, with this format for the Vuelta, all the stages are important. There are some with several consecutive climbs, but in 2012, an apparent transitional stage changed the whole race. I canít point to any particular stage.

In the Tour, you had a great preparation and a really strong team. Howís the team for the Vuelta?

Itís true that in the Tour we looked for the strongest team possible in order to control the race in case we had the leader, but in the Vuelta, even though we donít have riders like Roche, Rogers or Majka, we also have a very strong team for the flat stages and a group of climbers who can do very well. This time around, the team is the least of my worries, because I donít feel the pressure of having to control the race. I think that Iím not prepared to fight for the overall win and instead, there are others who are.

What have these six weeks been like, from the crash in the Tour to the start of the Vuelta? When did you think that youíd be able to ride?

Iíve gone through different moments. Until the tenth day, when they first took out the stitches, in a rather hasty decision, and the wound opened up, things didnít look so good, because I had to go back and start all over again. Thanks to the team at ClŪnica Cemtro, who took care of me, they stitched the wound up again and cleaned out the dirt that had remained after the first surgery, everything evolved rapidly. The work of the teamís physios, the use of the Indiba and Compex systems, and having tried to do the maximum since the moment I had a little mobility in the knee, in order to get back to the bike, all that has made it so that I could be here, although maybe a little more behind than Iíd hoped, which is why thereís a question mark beside my performance in the upcoming days.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room


VUELTA A ESPA—A ROUTE FLY-OVER VIDEO

Get to know the parcours, from Jerez de la Frontera to Santiago de Compostela, August 23-September 7, 2014





ROZ JONES CAPTURES CONTADOR TRIUMPH AT FUENTE D…

September 6, 2012 - Crack young British photographer was there at Fuente Dť to get the shots of a lifetime


Triumph for Alberto Contador at Fuente Dť

Triumph for Alberto Contador at Fuente Dť

Triumph for Alberto Contador at Fuente Dť

Many thanks to Roz Jones for sharing these fantastic photos of the historic moment that clinched Contador's Vuelta 2012 victory. More at PHOTO DAYBOOK

GO TO ROZ JONES PHOTO STREAM and ON THE ROAD CYCLING TOURS


All text © 2007-2008 Rebecca Bell, contadorfans@hotmail.com.

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