, www.albertocontadornotebook.info - Alberto Contador Fans Notebook

www.albertocontadornotebook.info - Alberto Contador Fans Notebook

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July 12, 2014

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NICOLAS ROCHE ON LOSS OF HERNÁNDEZ

July 11, 2014 - Contador's teammate updates NBC on the condition of Jesús Hernández after yesterday's crash and abandon


Nicholas, it was tough for the team to lose Herández yesterday. Going forward, with the mountains coming, how tough will this be for Contador, not having his roommate and top climbing domestique with him?

Nicolas Roche Well, it's obviously a big loss. Jesús is, like you said, his roommate, so it's so important to have that person beside you in the evening as well – especially for Alberto – to be able to talk to, and evacuate the stress with, and they being roommates but also best friends for many, many years now. But then on the sporting side as well, Jesús is actually someone who brings a lot in the mountain stages, someone you can really count on when you hit those tough climbs. So it's a big loss. We're actually super lucky he's better because last night it looked like he went into concussion, and it looked really, really serious. This morning he was feeling better. So, health comes first, obviously. It's a big shame for us, but we're all happy that he's okay.

So that’s a psychological, a personal, and a physical blow for Contador. How will Contador adjust? How will he handle this?

Well, he's used to that situation. It's not the first time one of his teammates crashes out of a race, and we're just going to have to work harder, obviously. (smiles) Maybe in a group of 50 riders, instead of being three of us, there might only be twoof us, or four of us instead of five, but we're just going to have to adapt the tactics. We saw yesterday that Sky lost Zandio, one of their top guys for riding in the flat, so unfortunately it's part of the Tour and it happens on every single team.

Who does Contador turn to as a confidant, someone he can rely on within the team?

Jesús is with us for another few days, just as a precautionary. You never know what can happen after you hit your head so hard, so he's with us for two or three days, and they're going to continue rooming together. Afterwards, I think he'd be rooming...I don't know, actually we haven't talked about it, that's more the sport director's choice. Then on the bike, for the mountains, you have myself and Mick Rogers, who are there to help him and to give him the maximum support.

How would you size up Contador's overall condition right now?

I think it's good. I think he's in great shape. I think he's in winning shape, I hope, even though we have a bit of a disadvantage with that 2:30 gap, which is a lot. But I think he can make it back.


ANOTHER CRASHED-FILLED FINALE

July 11, 2014 - Contador stays safe as rough and tumble finish issues hard knocks to Talansky, Van Garderen, Van den Broeck and others


2014 Tour de France, Stage 7

Contador, in the yellow helmet in back, skirted Talansky's crash in the Stage 7 finale (Eurosport Gallery)

Stage 7 July 11, 2014 Épernay - Nancy 234.5 km

Alberto Contador commented on Stage 7 of the Tour today, saying that the finish “was not good for me,” and added that something similar would happen tomorrow. “The final climb is also maybe too short and explosive. It’s better for riders like Valverde or even Nibali, but we’ll be there, in anticipation of Monday, which is more suited,” said the Tinkoff-Saxo leader.

Alberto mentioned for yet another day the danger of these finales, and that the best thing is to stay in front. “It’s much simpler to ride in back, but you’re at risk back there: even though you can save some energy, it could come at the cost of crashing and sending your whole year down the toilet. That’s why you have to be in front, and for that I have a team who do an amazing job of protecting me. The mountains are coming up soon to see what my state of form is like.”

Contador said that seen from the outside “it seems that things are going slowly and are not tense, but the speed is incredible. We’re riding elbow to elbow, but like in a team time trial, at 50 kilometers per hour. These are days that really wear you down,” he said.

Concerning the possibility of attacking in the Vosges, he said that the mountains “begin for real on Monday. Tomorrow will be an explosive finale, better for a different type of rider. We’re going to do our own race, because there is still so much left. There’s plenty of terrain for being bored and for recovering time. The Alps will do some damage, but it’s the Pyrenees that will be judge, jury and executioner of the Tour. People are going to enjoy it on TV,” he concluded.

PLAYBOOK

To make a 234-km long story short, the chase was on as the road got hilly in the final part of the stage. Most of the GC men were in the select group that delivered the sprint to the line. Matteo Trentin took the win in a photo finish over Peter Sagan while chaos ruled on the road behind them. In separate incidents, Talanksy, Van den Broeck and Van Garderen all hit the deck, as well as many other riders. Van Garderen lost more than a minute.

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: “It was another hard day in France and another day with crashes and time gaps but Alberto was delivered perfectly in the finale by the boys who managed to explode the field and especially Nico (Roche) really did a big difference on the final climb. Luckily, we had no crashes today. Tomorrow’s gonna be a demanding stage. I expect 50 riders to make it in the first group at the foot of the final climb over 3 kilometers but time differences will occur and we have to position Alberto in a favorable spot so he can finish among the best."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 7, 21st (s.t. Trentin - 5:18:29). Contador in GC, 16th (2:37 Nibali - 29:57:04)

TOP 20: 1 Nibali, 2 Fuglsang (0:02), 3 Sagan (0:44), 4 Kwiatkowski (0:50), 5 Van den Broeck (1:45), 6 Gallopin (1:45), 7 Porte (1:54), 8 Talansky (2:05), 9 Valverde (2:11), 10 Bardet (2:11), 11 Costa (2:11), 12 Cancellara (2:20), 13 T. Dumoulin (2:25), 14 Mollema (2:27), 15 Thomas (2:30), 16 Contador (2:37)

AUDIO COMMENTS (SPANISH) 1 - AUDIO COMMENTS (SPANISH) 2 -

AUDIO COMMENTS (ENGLISH) 2

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS - RACE ATLAS


AFTER THE PAVÉ: LIVE DOGS AND DEAD LIONS

July 9, 2014 - Nibali increases lead with daring rotary gallop, Contador stays alive, Froome roars no more


2014 Tour de France, Stage 5

Besmattered but not beaten (EFE)

Stage 5 July 9: Ypres - Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, 155.5 km

Alberto Contador finished today’s pavé stage without crashing, although he did lose time, especially to Nibali. For him, it was “a very complicated day, in which I lost a lot of time. Nibali was at the exact point in the second sector where everything broke wide open. We simply survived the day without crashing, which is maybe more important. Our terrain is yet to come,” said the Tinkoff-Saxo leader after crossing the finish line.

In the final kilometers, in addition, Contador experienced “a problem with the bike. In all the mud, the small sprockets got blocked and it was impossible to keep pace. It was a complicated stage from the very beginning. There was a lot of danger. The time differences are large, but there’s a lot of Tour left. And I want to thank my team, who have been impressive.”

About Froome’s retirement from the race, he said that it was what could be expected “from a stage like this, with the cobblestones. It makes a thrilling show for television, but it’s a pretty big risk. Froome was the number one favorite to get the victory and now he’s out of the race. Of course I feel sorry for him, because preparing for the Tour means many months of both physical and psychological work and many sacrifices that are never seen. If, in the end, you’re involved in so many crashes and have to go home… I’m sorry for him and for the race, because there would’ve been a spectacular show in the mountains and this year in the Tour that’s not going to be able to happen.”

Finally he returned to the subject of the advantage gained by Nibali. “Of course I’d like it if we were sitting with the same time or with that advantage in my favor, but seeing how the situation is and how the cobblestones were, I did not want to take any more risks than necessary. I’d rather lose another minute than crash and, on the other hand, we’ve still got the whole Tour ahead of us.”

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

ACCORDING TO...

Stephen de Jongh, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: “Well, we lost about 2 and a half minutes to a very strong riding Nibali but we’re still confident. Alberto lost touch with the back wheel of Vincenzo and we simply couldn’t close the gap. Fortunately, Alberto didn’t crash at any point and he didn’t have any punctures and not having any crashes is very important concerning the rest of the race. We’re five days into the race. Alberto is in peak shape and better than he was in Dauphine and we’re going to do some hard mountain stages. So, we’re still absolutely confident but aware that there’s some hard work to be done in order to make it back to the top of the rankings."

Bjarne Riis, general manager, Tinkoff-Saxo: "Alberto had problems with his gears and couldn't change. It ended up costing him a little. We're still early in the race. All of the mountains are yet to come. Now we have to be positive. We have, after all, come through it unharmed today. Contador lost a little time, but there's plenty left." About Froome's abandon, "It's such a shame. He's a great rider. It's unfortunate for the Tour."

Nicholas Roche, via Twitter: "Crashed 25 k to go, sorry could not do more to help in finish.

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 5, 37th (2:54 Lars Boom - 3:18:35). Contador in GC, 19th (2:37 Nibali - 20:26:46)

TOP 20: 1 Nibali, 2 Fuglsang (0:02), 3 Sagan (0:44), 4 Kwiatkowski (0:50), 5 Cancellara (1:07), 6 Van den Broeck (1:45), 7 Gallopin (1:45), 8 Porte (1:54), 9 Talansky (2:05), 10 Valverde (2:11), 11 Bardet (2:11), 12 Van Garderen (2:11), 13 Costa (2:11), 14 Thomas (2:16), 15 Pinot (2:25), 16 T. Dumoulin (2:25), 17 Trofimov (2:25), 18 Mollema (2:27), 19 Contador (2:37), 20 Bakelants (2:39)

AUDIO COMMENTS 1 - AUDIO COMMENTS 2

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS - RACE ATLAS

PHOTO ALBUM BY SPORTFUL - CYCLINGNEWS GALLERY


STAGE TWO AND MAILLOT GO TO NIBALI

July 6, 2014 - Favorites size each other up in scary stage through Yorkshire Dales




Stage 2 July 06, 2014 York - Sheffield 201 km

Alberto Contador finished Staged 2 of the 2014 Tour in the front group, happy at having gotten through another day without a mishap. “We had to be focused at all times because it was a super-challenging day. We had to ride for 200 kilometers in the front, and the team protected me very well,” said the Tinkoff-Saxo leader.

“The finale was simpler,” continued Alberto. “We had to be in front controlling Froome and the other rivals a little. At the end, Nibali escaped, but the most important thing was surviving the day. However it seemed on TV today and yesterday, the tension is great and even though we’re extremely grateful to the people on the road, there’s incredible danger. We go 80 or 90 kilometers an hour on the descents and people have to be pushed aside, there are people in wheelchairs, people with dogs, and it’s a victory just coming through it intact every day.”

Alberto was pleased with the work of his team throughout the entire day. “The team protected me every second from possible crashes, because here, in the calmest of moments you could lose the Tour. Then, Rogers and Roche were with me, and the finale was simpler, I only had to be with the GC men. I’m very happy.”

About Nibali’s victory, he said that Astana “had several riders in front, all of them very high-level, and he took advantage of his opportunity. Behind, there wasn’t anybody who was willing to sacrifice himself, because nobody had teammates. Congratulations to Nibali and Astana.”

Contador, finally, said that today wasn’t a day for doing a real test. “It was a day for being there in a good position. It’s always important to be there and to push a little, but today wasn’t the day, it wasn’t the terrain, there was a huge amount to accomplish just to get to the finish line. It was a day for getting through without problems, and that’s how it turned out.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

ACCORDING TO…

More from Alberto: “I was only after a good position. I didn’t attack, it wasn’t a day for taking risks, nor for getting an advantage. The terrain didn’t permit it, since we had to work so hard just to get to the finish line.”

“I had to ride paying attention to his possible movements, Nibali took advantage of it and it’s up to us to congratulate him.”

About having no teammates with him in the finale: “There was no problem. The team did a phenomenal job in keeping me in front and avoiding complications and crashes. When I was alone, I never felt nervous, I felt calm and confident that I wasn’t going to lose time to my opponents. The Tour is very long, the support of my guys will be extraordinary, as always.”

“We’re grateful to the people who come to see the race, but if they get too close there’s incredible danger. People shifting position, others in wheelchairs, with dogs...coming through that intact is a victory in itself.”

“Today stage’s for me was all about taking care, watching my rivals and also about doing a little test. I’m well. I’m happy, I feel in form and I think that I’m going to progress as days go by. At this point in time the most important thing is to be in a good position. There are still a lot of stages for attacking. There were thousands of people, it’s lovely, but it’s also dangerous when we’re going 90 kilometers an hour descending or passing through villages where there are dogs.”

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: "It was an extremely demanding stage and it's almost as demanding as a spring classic so it was only natural that a select group of favorites arrived in Sheffield. Our boys did their job really well. The most important thing is to keep Alberto on his bike and he was supported all the way to the final climb. Tomorrow, it's an ordinary sprinter stage where Astana are responsible for the pacesetting and eventually we hope to see a thrilling, safe and beautiful run-in to London where the sprinters get their chance to shine."

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “The stage was truly hard. All day up and down, narrow roads and a tremendous velocity. People have their strength intact and it shows. In the finale I felt well but there was a great lack of control and Nibali took advantage of it very well. I saw that I wasn’t going to be able to win the stage and when he took off in the final straight it was to close the gap to Froome, who had jumped with Rui and was on the move. It’s quite difficult to be at his level, and so it’s better not to give him one second of advantage. This has only just begun, but I feel good and so I’m happy.”

Vincenzo Nibali, stage winner (Astana): “I feel good and I made a good move in the final part. Thanks to Fuglsang’s work, I was able to take advantage of my opportunity. Everybody was waiting for the sprint and I thought that it was the moment to go. Luckily I got a gap of a few meters and they were decisive in getting the win. A strong headwind was blowing, and that made it really hard, but I’m happy because I’ve gotten this win in the Italian National Champion jersey.”

“This win is marvelous. It’s worth all the sacrifices. The beginning of the season has been a difficult year for me, but I’ve trained a lot with my Tour de France squad and my confidence has risen due to the two victories: the Italian nationals and here today. But I want to keep working with tranquilité. My principal objective is to get a good final result in the Tour de France. I don’t want to lose my head. The Tour is a very hard race. I’m superstitious, so I don’t want to say that I’m going to win the GC. I love having gotten the maillot jaune after having won the red jersey in the Vuelta a España and the maglia rosa in the Giro d’Italia.”

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 2, 13th (0:02 Nibali - 5:08:36). Contador in GC: 13th (0:02 Nibali 9:52:43)

TOP TEN: 1 Nibali, 2 Sagan (0:02), 3 Van Avermaet (0:02), 4 Albasini (0:02), 5 Froome (0:02), 6 Mollema (0:02), 7 Van den Broeck (0:02), 8 Contador (0:02), 9 Van Garderen (0:02), 10 Fuglsang (0:02)

AUDIO COMMENTS (SPANISH) - AUDIO COMMENTS (ENGLISH) -

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS - RACE ATLAS


HAIR-RAISING TOUR DE FRANCE OPENER

July 5, 2014 - Contador and Tinkoff-Saxo finish safely, Cavendish causes crash in harrowing finish, Kittel wins stage


2014 Tour de France, Stage 1

Alberto Contador was spirited and smiling at the start line of Tour Stage 1 (Colin Flockton)

Stage 1, July 5: Leeds - Harrogate, 190.5 km

Alberto Contador finished Stage 1 of the 2014 Tour de France without problems and feeling good, emphasizing that his team did “really well and that’s what’s most important during these days.”

After crossing the finish line, the leader of the Tinkoff-Saxo team said that during tomorrow’s stage, which covers a tougher and even more taxing route, “we’ll have to ride in front, like today, focusing every second on not losing our heads, because there will be many groups. We’ll have to try to keep the maximum number of riders from my team in front and, from that perspective, see what happens.”

About today, Contador pointed out how dangerous it had been, “not only in the finale, but rather throughout the whole stage, with extremely narrow roads that had more pronounced slopes maybe even than the rest of Europe. That makes it really tricky to brake the bicycle, but we survived the day, which didn´t have one single calm moment, thanks to the parcours and the crashes. That’s what I’m so happy about. Getting to the finish line without any problems in a stage like this is a victory in itself.”

And finally, Alberto said that he had felt good, although he indicated that they’ll still have wait to draw any conclusions. “I felt good physically, but I’ll still have to confirm this in the mountains. On a day like today, the trick is to stay mentally focused.”

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

ACCORDING TO...

More from Alberto: "It was a very tense day. I’m happy that I didn’t experience any mishaps and got through the day well. My teammates protected me at all times, and we prefered riding near the front in order to avoid trouble. The problem is that it’s very windy here and the roads are very steep and narrow. For tomorrow more than today, I expect to be paying close attention and watching how the day develops, if, in the finale, it produces actions among the favorites.”

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: “It was a very good start of the race for us as no one was injured and Michael is already demonstrating good form. It was a very unfortunate end of the stage to see the sprinters hit the deck and I hope they are all well and able to continue. But in general, it was a pleasant and actually less nervous first stage of the Tour compared to previous Tours where we have seen big groups of riders piling up on the road. And the amount of spectators along the roads was just amazing. It’s beautiful to witness this kind of support from the British fans and I just hope that they take care of each other and of the riders as well. Tomorrow’s stage is, in my eyes, an English version of Amstel Gold Race. It’s going to get tough and our focus is solely Alberto getting through safely."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 1, 22nd (s.t. Kittel - 4:44:07). Contador in GC, 22nd (s.t. Kittel - 4:44:07)

TOP FIVE: 1 Kitell, 2 Sagan (s.t.), 3 Navardauskas (s.t.), 4 Coquard (s.t.), 5 Rogers (s.t.)

PHOTO DAYBOOK


TOUR DE FRANCE STARTS TODAY

July 5, 2014 - Contador is great shape to challenge for the maillot jaune


STAGE ONE, RACE ATLAS

Riding for Tinkoff-Saxo: 31 Alberto Contador, 32 Daniele Bennati, 33 Jesús Hernández, 34 Rafal Majka, 35 Michael Mørkøv, 36 Sergio Paulinho, 37 Nicholas Roche, 38 Michael Rogers, 39 Matteo Tosatto


CONTADOR STARTS STRONG WITH DAUPHINÉ ITT

June 8, 2014 - A sizzling second place promises an exciting week of racing in France


Critérium du Dauphiné 2014, Stage 1

Alberto Contador sizzled in the opening time trial (Team Tinkoff-Saxo)

Stage 1, June 8: Lyon - Lyon, 10.4 km

Alberto Contador returned to competition today, after a two-months absence, with a robust second-place finish in Stage 1 of the Critérium du Dauphiné, his normal tune-up race for the Tour de France. Contador showed Tour readiness in the 10.4-km ride, finishing in provisional first, only to be knocked off the top step by defending champion Chris Froome by a margin of eight seconds.

“My result is fine!” said Contador afterwards. “For me, the last part was difficult. I knew that there was going to be a strong headwind at the end. That made the race very tough. I didn’t want to run any unnecessary risk on the descent since I knew that a moto had crashed in the morning, so I was a little wary of oil on the road. The most important thing for me was not to crash. I felt good on the bike. I’m very happy with the result.”

PLAYBOOK

Contador, one of the last three riders to leave the gate, clocked the best time of the day at the intermediate check. He crossed the finish line in provisional first place, unseating Bob Jungels, who had held the top rung for most of the day. The last two riders on the docket, Nibali and Froome, each passed the check almost neck and neck with Contador, Nibali two seconds slower, Froome one second faster. Froome then took a few seconds in the final kilometers.

ACCORDING TO…

Contador’s DS, Philippe Mauduit: “I think this is a good result. It’s not winning but Alberto is obviously well-prepared and now only needs a week of race speed to brush off his physical condition. I’m totally confident. Tomorrow, Sky have the responsibility of the pace-making while we can stay behind before the demanding finale."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 1, 2nd (0:08 Froome - 0:13:14). Contador in GC, 2nd (0:08 Froome)

TOP FIVE: 1 Froome, 2 Contador (0:08), 3 Jungels (0:09), 4 Talansky (0:11), 5 Keldermann (0:11)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS


CONTADOR´S BACK FOR CRITÉRIUM DU DAUPHINÉ

June 7, 2014 - French race (June 8-15) will be a tune-up for Alberto, who says, “I’ll be in good form, but not obsessing about winning”


Alberto Contador arrived in Lyon yesterday to take part in the Critérium du Dauphiné, and today did recon of the route for the opening time trial, which takes place tomorrow. In a press conference this afternoon, the Tinkoff-Saxo leader offered his thoughts about his first race since the Tour of the Basque Country, two months ago.

What have you been doing since your last race, and what has your preparation been like?
After Basque Country, I took a break to rest because this season has been very intense and I really needed it. From there, I’ve gradually increased my training load and I’ve done a low-intensity stint on Teide (Canary Islands), with the intention of going back to recover after the Dauphiné.

What’s your objective in the Dauphiné?
It’s a key race for me in the context of the Tour de France, but as I’ve said in past years, it’s a tune-up race for me. We’ve worked very hard and I’m arriving in good form, but without having done intensity, because the real play for the Tour will come in the final week, and besides, this year I’m going to the Vuelta a España. I’ll be in good form, but not obsessing about winning.”

This winter you said that Froome will be the point of reference in the Tour. Now that this time has passed, do you still think the same, or has anything changed?
I think the same as I did then. Froome has been extremely strong in the Tour for the last two years and he’s the number one favorite. I’ll be at the start line very motivated and we’ll see that happens later, but yes, Froome is the top seed.

What would be a great result for you in the Dauphiné?
Seeing what my performance is like, making a good recovery physically and, especially, in the ten days following the end of the race, checking to see that my motor’s running well.

Does that mean that your confidence will not be affected if Froome is the clear winner of the Dauphiné?
The confidence factor is subjective, and every person looks at it from his own point of view. Obviously, if you have options in the Tour, you have to be at a great level in the Dauphiné, but whether you win or not is a different matter. I’d even wonder about myself more if I won, because I’ve never done it before, and then I’d start to think about how I was going to do in the Tour.

This year Nibali hasn’t had any important results. Does that mean anything, or do you think that he’ll be on form in the Tour?
With a rider like Nibali, you have to expect that he’ll be as good as ever. He’s rested now and he was also on Teide. They have a great plan for arriving at the Tour and today you have to take him into account, aside from whatever wins he’s gotten.

Has this year been the best start to any season in your career?
At first, that’s not how I rated it, but then I read that they were starting to see it that way in some places, and the truth is, that is how it has played out, from the standpoint of effectiveness, because I’ve been first or second in all the races that I’ve done, and I’ve taken advantage of the great majority of the opportunities that I’ve had, either winning or finishing in the top three. And also due to the level that I’ve had in the races.

How do you explain that?
It’s been a completely different winter than the last two or three. My routine has centered completely on the bike, on optimizing training and rest, being aware that it was going to be a very taxing year. When the results aren’t coming in, for me it’s a challenge and a greater motivation. I’ve gone back to the traditional calendar, opting out of certain contests at the beginning of the year that didn’t allow me to train in peace, and these have been the keys.

Was it a surprise to find out that Sky won’t have Wiggins at the Tour?
Neither yes nor no. Every team has a race plan and looks for the best group of riders from all angles. Wiggins has shown a great state of form, and so they’ll have an opportunity in the Vuelta a España as well.

Which will be the best stage to try something this week?
The seventh, because the climbs are like the ones in the Tour de France, with 8% inclines and long, which, in the end, is what puts its stamp on the Tour and is where your form shows itself.

Does there exist in this Tour some key day? What will be the significance of the pavé stage?
I think that this Tour will be super open and entertaining to watch on television, because almost every day has something. The stages in England will be tough and nervous, then comes the pavé, the Vosges – with two grueling stages –which will be followed almost immediately by the Alps and then several stages in the Pyrenees, plus the time trial. The stage over the cobblestones will be very important, but it won’t be a decisive stage, unless you crash and break something. It won’t be a crucial stage.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room


ACCORDING TO...RORY SUTHERLAND

April 26, 2014 - Tinkoff-Saxo's Australian rider spoke to the press about his team leader at the Amstel Gold Race


Rory Sutherland VELONEWS| April 22, 2014 - Tinkoff-Saxo's Australian rider Rory Sutherland did an interview with Matthew Beaudin of VeloNews at the Amstel Gold Race. Here's what he said about riding with Alberto Contador:

How’s it been going?
Good. Really good this year. Good program with the team. Obviously Alberto is riding pretty well; it’s pretty nice to be on that team.

What’s it like, riding with a star?
It’s awesome. When your captain is so good, obviously the competition is also really strong. But when you have a captain like him, you ride better as well. You want to do the best job you can for him so he can do his job. You’re not going to screw him.

The fact is he’s a super nice guy as well. Great guy, very thankful, very respectful, and knows that as long as everyone does their best then he responds really well to that.

Seems like he’s just flying.
He’s going pretty well.

You hope for the Tour de France, then?
Yeah, I think everybody does. Especially with Alberto, the way he’s going, and I think I can do a good job in an area of the team that we don’t have people, you know? Kind of the middle mountains, the middle group. Not the end group, not first flat group, but it depends on, you know, so many different things coming into June and July. That’s why it was good to ride with Alberto the last couple races, because then he knows whether he wants you around or not. But we’ll see.


ACCORDING TO...ROMAN KREUZIGER

April 16, 2014 - Czech super-domestique and big winner in his own right comments about team leader Contador


Roman Kreuziger Tinkoff-Saxo's Roman Kreuziger, the reigning champion of the Amstel Gold Race who will defend his title this Sunday, mentioned his team leader in a short interview for the team website today. Here's what he said about Alberto Contador and the recent edition of the Tour of the Basque Country:

“I mean, with Alberto everyone wants do their best and that’s what we did in País Vasco. He knows exactly how to motivate the team riders and staff members and for me as a road captain, it’s a pleasure to work with him. Of course, sometimes I see things differently than him but we talk a lot both between and during the stages.

"The biggest surprise to me during País Vasco was the pace during the race. It was really tough and I suffered quite a lot."


MORE ABOUT PAVÉ RECON

April 15, 2014 - Video and more photos from the French and British press


Alberto Contador hit the bricks yesterday to find out more about cobblestones, and the sporting press noticed. The cadre of reporters who accompanied him on recon of the 2014 Tour de France Stage 5 route (Ypres - Arenberg) has generated a number of articles, videos and photos.

See Nord Pas-de-Calais's VIDEO, plus an article and PHOTO GALLERY from Cycling Weekly. Also see CYCLISME for a short interview in French.


CONTADOR RECONS TOUR COBBLES' STAGE

April 14, 2014 - Early season is now mission accomplished, but Alberto packs in one key day of work before vacation


Reconning Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour de France

Alberto scouts out the Arenberg cobblestones with Steven de Jongh, Philippe Mauduit and a gaggle of reporters (AC press room)

Alberto Contador did reconnaissance today of Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour de France, which is slated for July 9 over a route from Ypres to Arenberg that features nines sectors of pavé in the final 75 kilometers. “It all went well. I’ve seen the first part of the stage by car and the last 75 km on the bike,” he said before taking the plane back home.

“I mainly took the opportunity to study the equipment, which is the most important thing here. I already knew some of these sectors from 2010, but clearly the first ones will be the most decisive, because the pack will be huge there and there will be more of a fight to get to the front. Afterwards, there will be more of a selection,” said Contador.

“I’ve felt good on the cobbles, but you can’t forget that this is only training, it’s not the race, nor is it raining, which could complicate everything. The wind will be very important too. Today it’s pretty brisk and in that case it will be important to have a strong team,” said Alberto about potential race conditions.

“The most complicated part will be the entrance to the pavé sectors. Some of them have a lot of sand and the bike really skates around and gets away. We’ll have to take care,” cautioned the Tinkoff-Saxo leader “I felt good on the cobblestones, but you have to face this stage with respect and awareness that we’ll already have 100 kilometers in our legs. I think that it will be a more difficult stage than the one in 2010, because the sectors in the beginning are more complicated.”

Alberto said that today he used “the best bike that I could have for this stage, the Specialized Roubaix. We used the Zipp 303 wheels and we played with the measurements of the tubulars and the pressure, to see how they worked, because a rider who weighs 75 kilos is not the same as one who weighs 62 kilos.”

Contador relied on the counsel today of Steven de Jongh, who accompanied him on the bike while Philippe Mauduit followed in the team car. “Steven has tons of experience in these races and knows the route backwards and forwards. His advice is very important,” he said. “After finishing País Vasco and seeing this stage, I have to say that I’ve accomplished my mission for the first part of the year,” concluded Alberto, who will take a few days of vacation before starting to prepare for the Dauphiné and the Tour de France, the next items on his competition calendar.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

PHOTOS


CONTADOR LEADS WORLD RANKINGS

April 14, 2014 - Updates after Basque Country and Paris-Roubaix


Alberto Contador continues at the top of the WorldTour individual rankings, as of April 13, 2014, with 308 points. Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland is next in line with 260 points, followed by Dutch rider and winner of Paris-Roubaix Nicki Terpstra in third with 200 points.

Spain leads the national category with 605 points over Belgium, in second, with 454. France follows with 381 points. Teams rank in the following order: 1 Omega Pharma-Quick Step (543), 2 Katusha (382), 3 AG2R (380)

COMPLETE CURRENT WORLDTOUR RANKINGS


VIDEO: VUELTA AL PAÍS VASCO PODIUM CEMEMONY

April 13, 2014 - Don't miss the videos of Alberto Contador on the winner's podium in Basque Country!


Vuelta al País Vasco

GO TO VIDEO: PODIUM CEREMONY


CONTADOR WINS THE 54TH VUELTA AL PAÍS VASCO

April 12, 2014 - Alberto turns in a sensational ITT performance to clinch a third career title




Stage 6, April 12: Beasain - Beasain, 25.9 km (ITT)

Alberto Contador turned in his best ITT performance of the season today in the sixth and final stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, finishing in 2nd place at seven seconds behind World Champion Tony Martin and clinching the overall title for the third time in his career.

Contador's two biggest threats in the ITT had been Valverde, trailing him by only 12 seconds overall, and Michal Kwiatkowski, the multi-talented young Polish rider. When all was said and done, however, Valverde - after a week of tenacious and thrilling riding - fell to fifth place in the GC and Kwiato lost eight seconds to Alberto, rather than gaining time as the Pinteño had feared.

The top spot in the WorldTour rankings still belongs to Contador after Basque Country, as he looks forward to a vacation before begining his final preparation for the Tour de France.

Alberto said after the stage, “It’s a reason to be proud. When I won the time trial in 2005, it was a dream come true. I never ever imagined that I’d win the whole thing afterward, and three times. I’m very happy. I couldn’t have imagined that the time trial would go so well in País Vasco because I noticed that I was pretty fatigued and I have to be very grateful to my teammates.”

“These results have given me confidence to keep working hard to meet my big goals, the Dauphiné and the Tour, which I´m going to tackle with a lot of motivation," Contador added. "Now I´m going to take the break that I need and afterwards I´ll return to work thinking about the Tour.”

The winner of the general classification continued, “I feel really good, in training and in the tests. And it addition, I´m the leader of the world rankings."

“I´ve felt like I was at home," he said in reference to the Basque region that has always welcomed him enthusiastically. "Chapeau to everybody."

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, a happy Tinkoff-Saxo directeur sportif: “Alberto is simply super strong at the moment. He rode elegantly, regularly and with enormous power in the pedals. We knew that he was the best climber here and today he demonstrated that he’s one of the very best time trialists as well, finishing only 7 seconds behind the world champion. For Alberto this is another boost of confidence which he needed before going home training to prepare for the Tour de France."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 6, 2nd (0:07 Tony Martin - 38:33). Contador in GC, 1st (21:09:11)

TOP FIVE: 1 Contador, 2 Kwiatkowski (0:49), 3 Peraud (1:04), 4 Spilak (1:07), 5 Valverde (1:07)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS - PALMARES


CONTADOR MAINTAINS LEADERSHIP IN BASQUE STAGE 5

April 11, 2014 - Valverde attacks Alberto without success, both finish in same time as stage winner Ben Swift. No change to GC top ten.


stage 5, April 11: Eibar - Markina - Xemain, 160.2 km



ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: “The stage was as hard as we expected but our main goal was that Alberto would cross the finish line with Valverde and the other favorites and we succeeded. But a 12 second lead is not an overwhelmingly safe one and Alberto really has to live up to his very best in order to keep the rivals behind. However, the course suits him well as it includes two climbs of 3.5 and 4 kilometers but we have seen Valverde perform excellently as well on the slopes so it’s going to be a real thrill sitting in the car behind him tomorrow."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 5, 9th (s.t. Ben Swift - 3:56:56). Contador in GC, 1st (20:30:31)

TOP TEN: 1 Contador, 2 Valverde (0:12), 3 Cunego (0:36), 4 Evans (0:36), 5 Peraud (0:36) 6 Trofimov (0:36), 7 Kwiatkowski (0:41), 8 Landa (0:54), 9 Poels (0:55), 10 S. Sánchez (0:56)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS AND PHOTOS


FLYING DUTCHMAN STEALS QUEEN STAGE

April 10, 2014 - Wout Poels absconds with victory while favorites brawl


Vuelta al País Vasco

Alberto Contador and the other GC men finish in Poel's wake (Colin Flockton)

Stage 4, April 10: Vitoria-Gasteiz - Arrate (Eibar), 151 km

Alberto Contador maintained the leadership today in Stage 4 of the Vuelta al País Vasco, although he ceded two seconds at the finish line to Valverde, who is in 2nd place at 12 seconds. Contador gained a little time on Kwiatkowski, however, who is now 41 seconds down. “It would’ve been better not to lose time to Alejandro, but in the end, the group was shattered. The climb was very different from other times, I think that it was much slower and there was a really strong headwind – I don’t ever remember another occasion like that. I noticed it on the first pass, and I looked at a right-hand curve that could be used for a launching point, but the truth is that the group was easily able to catch my wheel,” explained Alberto.

The Tinkoff-Saxo leader realized that “some dangerous riders were in difficulty and I told Alejandro to go ahead if he wanted, but he preferred to stay in the group and I tried to maintain a pace, watching my back a little, because I thought that he was going to attack me. In a way, I’m very happy, mainly due to the team, who were amazing in controlling the stage, which was a madhouse from start to finish. Now it’s all about recovering as well as possible.”

Alberto saw Kwiatkowski as “coming unhitched, and as he’s doing some extraordinary time trials, you’re better off getting all the advantage you can on him, likewise with some of the BMC riders who were pretty much on the limit. But it was complicated to gain any time because the headwind was very strong and people were able catch your wheel,” he said.

The advantage over Valverde, in light of the time trial on Saturday, leaves everything up in the air, according to Contador. “Alejandro is very strong in the time trial, especially in a TT like the one on Saturday, although it’s not bad for me, either. It all depends on the forces that each person has, how we recover, and always taking into account that we have behind us riders with tremendous time trial ability. It will be a TT that will command the state of form of each person. For me, the most important thing is to recover well, and we’ll see what happens. Twelve seconds gap to Alejandro is not much, but I’d rather have him behind me that in front of me.”

And for tomorrow’s stage, Alberto said that, in País Vasco, “there aren’t many transitional days. It will be a pretty hectic day, like today, incredibly grueling, and I’m sure that many riders are going to feel it. Maybe I will, too. I don’t know. We’ll have to see about everything, and see what the weather’s like, because it could rain and that always makes the race a little crazier and creates more possibilities for everyone.”

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: - Today we had a strong headwind on the last climb. Maybe that’s why Alejandro waited for the descent to attack. So we will definitely see more attacks tomorrow. Alejandro Valverde needs to attack if he wants to go for the overall victory. So the boys are ready to control and help Alberto has much as possible."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 4, 10th (0:03 Wout Poels - 3:39:29). Contador in GC, 1st (16:33:35)

TOP TEN: 1 Contador, 2 Valverde (0:12), 3 Cunego (0:36), 4 Evans (0:36), 5 Peraud (0:36) 6 Trofimov (0:36), 7 Kwiatkowski (0:41), 8 Landa (0:54), 9 Poels (0:55), 10 S. Sánchez (0:56)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS AND PHOTOS




CONTADOR SURVIVES STAGE 3, ON TO THE QUEEN STAGE

April 9, 2014 - Bunch sprint finish clears way for showdown at Arrate tomorrow


Vuelta al País Vasco

Riders gab at the Stage 3 start line (Colin Flockton)

Stage 3, April 9: Urdazubi-Urdaz - Vitoria-Gasteiz, 194.5 km

Stage 3 of the Vuelta al País Vasco ended in a bunch sprint won by Michael Matthews of Orica-GreenEdge. Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde, the two riders in direct competition for the title, agreed with a nod of the head that neither would make a late play for seconds.

Tomorrow comes the queen stage of this edition, where Contador will fight to defend his leadership on the iconic climb to the Santuario de Arrate.

BICICICLISMO | Contador, before Arrate: “I’m sure that Valverde will test me”

“I’m not that crazy,” said Alberto Contador, wanting to keep track of the fast men in Vitoria-Gasteiz, where he finished 16th today in Stage 3 of the Vuelta al País Vasco. Contador was followed in by his most direct rival, Alejandro Valverde, in 17th. The duel is set for tomorrow at Arrate.

The leader of the Basque race said that his move near the end was “purely not to have surprises and not to lose time. I’m not that crazy. Kwiatkowski was all for the sprint. It is in fact true that the loss of time could be around two or three seconds but you never know what could be important at the end of the race. And you always have to stay on your toes.”

Part of the race could be decided tomorrow on the summit of the Santuario de Arrate. “It’s a very important stage, a stage that I really like, and we’re going to see how we feel. I’m sure that Valverde will test me well and we’ll see how we are,” he explained.

Right now, his eyes are on the GC rather than the stage win: “Everybody likes to win on Arrate. For now, we’re going to think a little about the GC, and the stage will be secondary right now, although it is true that it makes you particularly excited.”

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: "This was an obvious opportunity for the sprinters in the peloton and it was only natural that they took control of the pace while we embraced the chance to rest as much as possible. However, we looked after Alberto and made sure he was brought safely across the finish line before tomorrow's long and quite more demanding stage with several bumps along the way. But we're confident and we trust the boys are in control."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 3, 16th (s.t. Matthews - 5:02:09). Contador in GC, 1st (12:54:03)

TOP FIVE: 1 Contador, 2 Valverde (0:14), 3 Kwiatkowski (0:34), 4 Cunego (0:36), 5 Evans (0:36)

STAGE 3 PHOTO DAYBOOK (PHOTOS BY COLIN FLOCKTON)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS AND PHOTOS


TOUGH DAY, GOOD OUTCOME IN PAÍS VASCO

April 8, 2014 - Contador deftly fielded Valverde's attacks and finished safely in the pack behind Stage 2 winner, Tony Martin


Vuelta al País Vasco

Contador on the podium after Stage 2 (Colin Flockton)

Stage 2, April 8: Ordizia - Dantxarinea (Rudazubi), 155.8 km

Alberto Contador and team worked to maintain the leader jersey as German time-trial specialist Tony Martin went long in today's Stage 2 of the Vuelta al País Vasco.

Alejandro Valverde put the pressure on Contador - a reminder of yesterday's razzle-dazzle by the two Spaniards - but both riders finsihed with the peloton. World Champion Tony Martin attacked in the final 11 km and, putting in a huge effort, powered to the finish line alone.

BICICICLISMO | Contador, on Valverde’s attack: “I would’ve done the same thing"

Alberto Contador was happy and satisfied at the Stage 2 finish line of the Vuelta al País Vasco. He responded easily to two attacks by his main rival, Alejandro Valverde: “Alejandro attacked, and if I were the one in his situation, I would have done the same thing. We’d already seen the first time around that there were hills where it would be possible to try to drop the others, and I paid close attention.”

Today’s stage wasn’t altogether a transitional stage, according to the Pinteño: “It was really grueling because the men in the escape were very powerful and we couldn’t just let them go. The team was exceptional in their work and kept things perfectly under control without them ever getting more than three minutes. It wasn’t a transitional day, and it was very grueling.”

About his lead in the GC, Tinkoff-Saxo’s rider from Madrid told reporters that “14 seconds is not much considering how much is left, but it’s a lot to have gotten in one day. We have to keep taking it one day at a time.”

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: “As the leading team we took responsibility of the rhythm of the pack from the start of the stage and towards the finale, the sprinter teams wanted to bring Martin back but they were too late. From our point of view, I think Alberto responded well to Valverde’s accelerations and he defended the jersey in great style. We had a feeling that Valverde wanted to try something and we would probably have done the same thing. So we respect him for trying. Tomorrow’s stage will be a bit flatter than today but with a challenging finale."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 2, 16th (0:30 Tony Martin - 3:46:17). Contador in GC, 1st (7:51:54)

TOP FIVE: 1 Contador, 2 Valverde (0:14), 3 Kwiatkowski (0:34), 4 Cunego (0:36), 5 Evans (0:36)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS AND PHOTOS


CONTADOR EXPLODES PAÍS VASCO ON DAY ONE

April 7, 2014 - Alberto Contador prevails in final-climb duel with Valverde, dons txapela and leader jersey


Vuelta al País Vasco

Zap! Pow! Basque Country Stage 1 win goes to the Pinto Pugilist (Colin Flockton)

Stage 1, April 7: Ordizia - Ordizia, 153.4 km

Alberto Contador finished off a great job by the Tinkoff-Saxo team today with a win in Stage 1 of the Vuelta al País Vasco. Contador’s teammates did the work for him, starting with Bruno Pires on the early climbs and followed by Jesús Hernández in the finale, with important support work by Roman Kreuziger (10th) and Rory Sutherland. Alberto took 14 seconds on Valverde and 34 seconds on Kwiatkowski – 2nd and 3rd on the day respectively – as well as the stage win and the leader’s jersey. “I’m very, very happy to be winning again in this land that I like so much and that has always given such good things to me. A perfect day: good weather, crowds of people on the roads and good legs,” said Alberto.

Contador said about the final climb that the atmosphere “was impressive on the last hill, with all the people. Impressive. The truth is that I always feel at home here. I’ve spent a lot of time on these roads.”

The Tinkoff-Saxo leader said that he couldn’t let go an opportunity on roads of this description. ¨You have to seize every opportunity. This morning I had good legs and I had to seize the day. Now the most important this is to recover, because we’ve only just gotten started and you have to take it one day at a time.”

When Alejandro attacked, Alberto said that he want to give it a try, “but know that Alejandro was very strong. In the end I was able to take a few seconds and that was enough, but Valverde is very strong,” he said, referring to what he sees as a wide-open race. So, his strategy was simple: “I just plugged away in order to endure the pain in my legs, and that’s it,” he concluded.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

BICICICLISMO | Contador: "It's not all decided, not by a long shot"

Alberto Contador has let fly a terrific punch in Stage 1 of the Vuelta al País Vasco. The Madrileño, satisfied, says, “I’m happy with how I felt. I had my doubts about how I was going to respond on the final hill because it was tested your rivals´ strengths against your own, and I’m thrilled with the win.”

This race has always been an enjoyable week for Contador. “The Vuelta al País Vasco is an exciting race for me and one that brings back wonderful memories, and it gave me goose bumps with all the people in the last part of the climb. I want to thank them for all of their spirit, it’s amazing how they get into it. Wouldn’t it be great if this enthusiasm were present at all the races!”

Fourteen seconds over Valverde and 36 over the others would appear to be a significant time gap after only one stage: “I knew that this stage was going to be very important so I trained hard in the days before because the first day always seems to be my worst, the one that costs me the most. The result is really good, but Basque Country is totally open. This race is a different story every day, as if it were a series of consecutive Classics, so it’s really nice, but we’ve only just gotten started. It’s not all decided, not by a long shot.”

PLAYBOOK

Tinkoff-Saxo and Movistar, the respective teams of Contador and Valverder, set the scene for the final showdown by controlling, or vying for control of, the stage. Valverde looked ready to add to his streak of 10 wins this season, at one point moving to the front alone in front of Contador and his helpers, and appearing to pull the entire peloton with his own motor.

At just under 8 kilometers to go, Valverde attacked on the nasty 2nd-category climb of the Alto de Gaintza. Contador countered, and the duel that ensued left the other favorites looking like chumps. Contador stayed on the Murcian's wheel until the 7.3-km mark, where he suddenly jumped, gaining some 13 seconds by dint of hard labor on the climb. He maintained the gap on the run-in to the finish. Valverde arrived 14 seconds later, followed 20 seconds more by an eight-man favorites group including Kwiatkowski, Nieve, Evans, and Contador's loyal gregario, Roman Kreuziger.

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit: "We took control of the race early on along with Movistar as we obviously had common interests and we kept increasing the pressure throughout the stage. On the final climb, Alberto did an amazing job counter-attacking Valverde and finished to job in perfect style leaving everyone behind. It's a good start of the race but we're also aware that already tomorrow, we'll be under attack. But we have a strong team here and I think we can maintain this lead for a while."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 1, 1st (4:05:07). Contador in GC, 1st (4:05:07)

TOP FIVE: 1 Contador, 2 Valverde (0:14), 3 Kwiatkowski (0:34), 4 Trofimov (0:36), 5 Cunego (0:36)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS AND PHOTOS - PALMARES




CONTADOR SECOND OVERALL IN LA VOLTA

March 30, 2014 - Alberto happy with 2nd spot on Volta a Catalunya podium after one last attempt to beat Purito


La Volta 2014, congratulations to Purito on final podium

Alberto Contador smiles and congratulates overall winner Joachim Rodríguez after trying for days to unseat him (Toni Albir/AS)

Stage 7, March 30: Barcelona (Montjuïc) - Barcelona (Montjuïc), 120.7 km

Alberto Contador finished the Volta a Catalunya today in second place overall, in spite of springing one more surprise attack on his rivals, this time on the wet and dangerous asphalt of the Montjuïc circuit.

After seven days of racing, the Tinkoff-Saxo leader said that he makes “a pretty good balance. I’ve felt well generally and specifically during the entire race. Maybe I came up a little short in some stage with a different finale and it’s a shame that I haven’t taken better advantage of the mountain stages, especially the one at Vallter 2000, but I’m very happy, especially with how I recover day after day,” he said in summary.

“In spite of having already done hard work in various competitions, I feel good, rested both physically and psychologically for the next objective, the Tour of the Basque Country,” said Alberto, who acknowledged that he had a “nagging feeling about the day at Vallter 2000, because maybe I could have tried harder. I think that I had the legs for the stage and I could’ve given it more of a shot for the GC, but tactically sometime you play it one way, sometimes another.”

Nor does he think that the results would’ve been very different if there had been a time trial. “You never know, there are times when a time trial benefits you and times when it hurts you. With Joaquim it could’ve benefitted me, but with Van Garderen maybe not. You never know, what you have to do is work with the parcours that you've got, and that’s it.”

At any rate, Alberto kept trying until the end. “I tried at two laps to go and again at one lap to go. Today I think that they did the right thing. They shortened the route due to the existing danger, but also it took away some of the toughness of the climb and that made it harder to pull off a surprise. Anyway, Joaquim paid close attention every second and I can only congratulate him.”

Finally, Contador answered a question about Froome and how he saw him. “The truth is that I haven’t seen him much, because in the end it was other riders who were disputing the race,” explained the Tinkoff-Saxo leader, who, starting April 7, will compete in the Tour of the Basque Country.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

PLAYBOOK

The bad weather that had been forecast turned out in spades today, and the condition of the streets deteriortated into the "skating rink" that Alberto referred to yesterday. The race organizers succeeded in averting catastrophe by deciding to shorten the stage by some four kilometers, removing 600 meters of descent in the circuit. The riders were informed of the change before the start.

The pouring rain dulled the bright colors of the peloton and made the riders negotiate the curves gingerly. Lieuwe Westra attacked out of the all-day escape group after the 4-km-to-go mark and soloed to the finish line, arriving two minutes ahead of the favorites' group.

Contador, behind with the other aces, followed Westra's example and attacked his group at two kilometers before the line. The move put the cat among the pigeons for a few moments, but Rodríguez, Van Garderen, Quintana and the others defended well. In the end, Contador´s maneuver had good entertainment value, but couldn't be converted to ready money in terms of seconds gained.

Alberto Contador, however, now leads the WorldTour rankings.

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: “It was a nasty finale concluding a very tough week and the race organizers actually shortened the circuit to avoid a few dangerous curves. Alberto tried his best to gain the time needed but Purito (Rodriguez) was just too strong to drop. Naturally, it can be frustrating being this close to the overall win but Alberto showed continuous great form and now, we’re looking forward to the Pays Basque.”

Joachim Rodríguez, overall winner: “This victory is important for me. It was a great race in Spain and also a WorldTour race. Two consecutive weeks we’ve won in the WorldTour. (Teammate Kristoff won Milan-San Remo last Sunday.)

“It’s also been a real race, especially when you saw Alberto Contador trying over the whole route until the end to gain the four seconds that he needed. The true Contador always fights for victory. This race was especially hard with all the wind and rain, but that’s what make’s the competition exciting.”

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 7, 7th (2:07 Westra - 2:36:14). Contador in GC, 2nd (0:04 Rodríguez)

TOP TEN: 1 Rodríguez, 2 Contador (0:04), 3 Van Garderen (0:07), 4 Bardet (0:10), 5 Quintana (0:10), 6 Froome (0:17), 7 Talansky (0:18), 8 Pozzovivo (0:26), 9 Barguil (0:42), 10 Kiserlovski (0:48)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS - PALMARES




VOLTA A CATALUNYA STAGE 6

March 29, 2014 - Contador: "Tomorrow is a stage that Joaquim knows like the back of his hand"


Alberto Contador finished with the pack along with the other leaders in today’s Stage 6 of the Volta a Catalunya on a very windy day that saw the escape survive until the finish line. Tomorrow’s final stage, ending in a circuit at Monjuïc, is the last chance to alter the GC, although it will be difficult. “Tomorrow is a stage that Joaquim (Rodríguez) knows like the back of his hand,” said the Tinkoff-Saxo leader to illustrate the possibilities of changing the general classification.

“Tomorrow we also have to watch the weather, because if it rains and is windy like today, it will be really complicated. I still remember the stage in the 2009 Tour when we got to Barcelona. It was a skating rink, we even crashed on the straight section,” recalled Contador.

Everyone will have to wait, however, until the last moment to know the outcome of this race. “Clearly this won’t be over until we’ve passed the finish line for the last time, but I’m aware that even though four seconds is a tiny amount, that same time is a great distance,” said Alberto.

“Today has been a very tense day, and I’m very grateful to my whole team because they protected me at every moment. You had to be in front, not just because of splits, but also because there could have been a crash and there was no was to catch back up to the peloton. Now I have to recover as well as possible to tackle tomorrow’s stage,” concluded Contador.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: “Well, today’s stage was rather windy and with a loop around the finish town, we had both headwind, crosswind and tailwind. As the stage progressed, the chance of splitting the field with an attack disappeared and our focus was to protect Alberto and bring him safely across the finish line. Tomorrow’s finale looks pretty hard and surely, there will be an opportunity or two for Alberto to make a move to gain the four seconds he needs."

Chris Froome, defending Tour de France champion who has failed to shine in Catalunya: “Alberto Contador without doubt will try everything possible to get the jersey, but I am happy to finish a good week of competition. I know where I am in my condition now. It’s good to fight for the victory, although I’m not at the level of the other guys, the explosive circuit doesn’t suit me. It’s much better suited to Purito and Contador than to me.”

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 6, 36th (0:55 Stef Clement - 3:58:44). Contador in GC, 2nd (0:04 Rodríguez)

TOP FIVE: 1 Rodríguez, 2 Contador (0:04), 3 Van Garderen (0:07), 4 Bardet (0:10), 5 Quintana (0:10)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS


VOLTA STAGE 5: CONTADOR SPICES IT UP

March 28, 2014 - Alberto attacks and mixes in the final sprint


La Volta 2014, Stage 5

Alberto Contador at the Stage 5 start line (Colin Flockton)

Stage 5, March 28: Llanars Vall de Camprodon - Valls, 218.2 km

Alberto Contador added a dash of spice to the finale of Volta a Catalunya Stage 5 today with two interesting moves: an attack on the final climb, and sixth place in the sprint finish, where ten bonus seconds were up for grabs for the stage winner. The most important thing, however, for Contador was “how I felt physically. My legs are recovering well every day, so I’m very, very happy,” said the Tinkoff-Saxo leader.

“The important thing was to be there,” said Alberto, referring to the final climb. “The team protected me all the time and, since I knew that it was a small climb, I was there to see what would happen, even though I wasn’t thinking about trying anything. It was almost impossible, because the road was very wide and there was a headwind.”

Later, at the finish line, Contador also took part in the sprint, coming in sixth. “I was well-placed and since I was there, I kept on to see how far I could go, but without taking any more risk than necessary, with care, and thinking especially about avoiding a split in the peloton,” he explained.

In the two remaining stages, Alberto thinks that there are not many opportunities left. “The route leave little room for doing anything. For me, what’s important is recovering well from the efforts of these days, which are really adding up,” he concluded.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: “Today’s stage revealed that Alberto is very confident. With an attack on the final climb before heading down towards the finish line where he participated in the bunch sprints as well clearly underlines that he’s strong and he’s not afraid of going all in. The rest of the boys did a super job protecting him throughout the stage where we didn’t have to pull at any time. The race ends Sunday and we’ll see what happens tomorrow."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 5, 6th (s.t. Mezgec). Contdor in GC, 2nd (0:04 Rodríguez)

TOP FIVE: 1 Rodríguez, 2 Contador (0:04), 3 Van Garderen (0:07), 4 Bardet (0:10), 5 Quintana (0:10)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS - PALMARES


FREEZING FINISH IN VOLTA QUEEN STAGE

March 27, 2014 - Contador ends up third on Vallter 2000 summit in a day of "geniune racing"


La Volta 2014, Stage 4

Contador strives for a one-second gain on Purito at the end of an agonizing day (Colin Flockton)

Stage 4, March 27: Alp - Vallter 2000-Setcases, 166.4 km

Alberto Contador crossed the finish line in third place today, on a cold, snowy and cloudy day at the summit of Vallter 2000. The conditions turned the queen stage of the Volta a Catalunya into a truly tough race, although the time gaps between the favorites were not great. “It was a day of genuine cycling,” said the Tinkoff-Saxo leader, “one of those that make you realize how hard the bike is. The truth is that I had good legs and maybe I should’ve tried something more, but hey, I’m happy because my legs are doing well. Sometimes the tactical options are like this, but the race is still very open, there are three days left and important things can happen,” said Contador.

Still cold to the bone, but already on the way to the team bus and shower, Alberto’s mind was on recovering as quickly as possible. “What’s importantk now is not catching cold, recovering as well as possible, and tomorrow’s another day.” About whether he could’ve launched more of an attack, he said that in cases like this “you never know how your rivals are doing, but what’s done is done. There are still three days left,” he said, while acknowledging that, after these two mountain stages, “from here to Barcelona, things are very difficult, but not impossible.”

Contador said, in reference to the possibility that harsh weather had been to blame for the small time gaps achieved in the queen stage, that the route “is what it is. We tried to make the race fast on the penultimate climb and the group was pretty whittled-down on the final climb, even though nobody was able to get enough of a gap, but the route is what it is and you have to adapt to it.”

In conclusion, Alberto highlighted that today was, mainly, “a day to keep building form for the upcoming commitments and to continue along that line. I felt well physically during the stage and I’m staying with that, with the work that I’m going to do each day for the future. The balance is positive.”

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: “It was a very tough day for everyone and our boys did a lot of work pulling the peloton for a lot of kilometers. Towards the finish, it was all up the GC favorites and they are obviously all very strong and unfortunately for us the time differences were small crossing the finish line. But it doesn't mean that it's completely hopeless. With 4 seconds separating us from the win, it would be unwise not to think of ways to come by it. But it will be difficult as Katusha and Purito (Rodriguez) are looking mighty strong."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 4, 3rd (0:03 Van Garderen - 4:49:30). Contdor in GC, 2nd (0:04 Rodríguez)

TOP FIVE: 1 Rodríguez, 2 Contador (0:04), 3 Van Garderen (0:07), 4 Bardet (0:10), 5 Quintana (0:10)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS - PALMARES


COLD WAR IN LA VOLTA MOUNTAINS

March 26, 2014 - Purito Rodríguez seizes the moment at La Molina as GC men linger to eye the competition


La Volta 2014, Stage 3

Contador looks back over his shoulder for Quintana, Van Garderen, and Froome (Colin Flockton)

Stage 3, March 26: Banyoles - La Molina (Alp), 162.9 km

“It was a complicated day thanks to the cold,” said Alberto Contador today, immediately after crossing the finish line in second place, behind Purito Rodríguez and a few seconds ahead of Quintana and Froome. “We arrived in a small pack and the race was broken up more than we thought, because the climb wasn’t hard.”

The Tinkoff-Saxo leader was satisfied with his performance on such a day, because, he said, “now the important thing is to recover as well as possible for tomorrow, which is harder. Today was a matter of controlling attacks, and the truth is that Joaquín had an amazing spark and I wasn’t able to hold him off in the final sprint.”

The race could depend, therefore, on what happens tomorrow. “I hope to have good legs for Vallter 2000, which is harder, and to see how we do,” said Contador, who acknowledged the high level of participation in this edition which includes the top four finishers in the last Tour de France. “Yes, the level of this year’s Volta is impressive, and what’s also great is that all of us who finished in front want to win,” he concluded.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

La Volta 2014, Stage 3

Contador rolls in second after the explosive attack of Rodríguez (Colin Flockton)

PLAYBOOK

After a freezing ride in the snowy mountains, the main favorites for the overall win delayed making a move until the final two kilometers, when several of the aces tried but failed to get the winning jump. Contador experimented by catching the wheel of the point rider from Movistar, but decided not to attack. He dropped back to a defensive position within the pack.

When Rodríguez attacked, Contador was ready. He countered, finishing 2nd at 0:05. Nairo Quintana followed at 0:09. Rodríguez, a Catalan, is the new race leader.

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo director: “The boys did a solid job keeping a high pace and protecting Alberto until the final kilometers of the stage where it was all down to the GC riders to fight it out. Rodriguez is a difficult man to beat in an explosive final like this and I’m happy to see Alberto finishing second ahead of both Quintana and Froome.

"Tomorrow’s stage will be harder with longer climbs and I expect Katusha to be in charge of the pace and we’ll wait and see how the race develops."

La Volta 2014, Stage 3

Alberto snacks as the Tinkoff-Saxo team push onward (Colin Flockton)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 3, 2nd (0:05 Rodríguez - 4:50:55). Contador in GC, 2nd (0:05 Rodríguez - 12:58:00)

TOP FIVE: 1 Rodríguez, 2 Contador (0:05), 3 Quintana (0:09), 4 Van Garderen (0:11), 5 Froome (0:13)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS - PALMARES




ANOTHER DAY FOR THE SPRINTERS

March 25, 2013 - A rainy day and another sprint win by Mezgec before tomorrow's summit finish


Stage 2, March 25: Mataro - Girona, 168 km

Alberto Contador arrived safely at the finish line in Girona today in Stage 2 of the Volta a Catalunya. During the stage, Tinkoff-Saxo kept to the front of the peloton for safety's sake on the wet and slippery roads.

Slovenian Luka Mezgec of Giant-Shimano made it two in a row with another bunch sprint win.

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo director, about tomorrow's first summit finish: “Tinkoff-Saxo will decide on the team’s podium ambitions when the riders hit the last climb to Molina. There is no pressure on Alberto tomorrow. He did a fantastic job in Tirreno, and he doesn’t have to push himself too much at this point in the season. For sure, tomorrow will be interesting, but it’s also very unpredictable because of bad weather. And also shape-wise, nobody knows how the competitors are feeling, so we’ll wait and see until the climb."

"Alberto, Froome, Purito, Quintana are here. It’s the top 4 from the Tour last year. And many others will be in the fight for the win as well. If the favorites feel good and want to challenge each other, it could be an amazing stage."

About today's stage:

"We avoided the crashes and had no problems on today’s stage. If you’re active in the front, of course you use more energy than in the middle of the peloton but you stay safe and if the peloton splits you don’t lose time. When the captain’s name is Alberto Contador and the team is among the favorites to the overall win, you don’t want to fool around. So we take charge and stay safe."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 2, 28th (0:03 Mezgec - ). Contador in GC, 21st (0:23 Mezgec - 8:06:42)

TOP FIve: 1 Mezgec, 2 R. Ferrari (0:14), 3 Howard (0:14), 4 Alaphilippe (0:16), 5 Ratto (0:16)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS


CONTADOR: INTERVIEW BEFORE CATALUNYA

March 24, 2014 - Alberto: “Sometimes the training sessions are harder than the races”


MARCA | by Fernando Llamas | Alberto Contador is competing in the first stage of the Volta a Catalunya scarcely six days after finishing Tirreno-Adriatico, where he won two stages, the second after an attack and solo ride that toppled the peloton in Abruzzo. After taking the trident back home, his body informed him, logically: “Alberto, I need rest.”

After five days of easy recovery work, he puts his shoulder to the grindstone again, facing Chris Froome, Purito Rodríguez, Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Uran, Carlos Betancur, Chris Horner, Samuel Sánchez and many other world-class riders, in terms of both form and desire.

Cappuccino training Do you suffer more as a result of Guardiagrele or a hard workout?
I’m a rider who likes to train. I know that the harder you train, the less you suffer in competition. In that sense, as I’ve said many times, I have to tread lightly because I can even overtrain to the point of exhaustion, with many, many vertical meters... It’s true, the training sessions are often harder than the race.

Photo: Cappuccino training (@albertocontador)

How do you recover from an effort like that? What do you feel on Monday morning?
Whether in front or behind, I think that we all ended up affected that day because the stage was very demanding. You get up the next day and you feel the effort in your legs, but the good thing is that we all got up alike. Maybe at least some riders were able to take it easier than I could on that day. But all the efforts add up. The ability to recover makes a difference that puts some riders at an advantage over others.

But you did a 32-kilometer mountain time trial. Tremendous. The others rode in a bunch, and slower.
It’s true that the exhaustion that day was enormous. It wouldn’t have been the same if I’d waited for the final wall. That’s obvious. It’s true that since finishing Tirreno, the only thing I’ve done is rest and do easy rides, because the body… Uff! I thought that I would’ve finished better. On the next day I didn’t seem very tired, but afterwards my body told me that it was indeed very fatigued and that I basically had to rest until Catalunya.

The slump happens when you finish the race?
When you get home, you put competition on the back burner and tell yourself that the body needs a break. Maybe it’s psychological, too.

So, on days like this, it’s “cappuccino training.” (Contador tweeted a photo from in a café in Lugano along with these two words on the day after wrapping up Tirreno-Adriatico, on Wednesday, March 19.)
Yes. That’s it, I did light training solely to avoid retaining fluids, and not to go as hard as possible on the bicycle. On Sunday, a couple of easy hours in Catalunya and to see the last little hill in the first stage. And, now, competition in order to get back into rhythm and to fight to win knowing that there are very important rivals here.


CONTADOR SAFE AFTER STAGE 1 OF LA VOLTA

March 24, 2014 - Bunch sprint goes to Slovenian from Giant-Shimano


La Volta 2014, Stage 1

Alberto Contador at the start line of La Volta Stage 1 (EFE)

Stage 1, March 24: Calella - Calella, 169.7 km

Alberto Contador finished with the pack in Stage 1 of the 94th edition of the Volta a Catalunya, where he arrived in the same time as sprint winner, Luka Mezgec. All of the GC men survived an active stage which included three categorized climbs and a bunch sprint. Bonifications apply in Catalunya, therefore Contador trails the race leader by 10 seconds.

ACCORDING TO...

Philippe Mauduit, Tinkoff-Saxo DS: “Everything went according to plan. It was obviously a day for the sprinters and our main goal was to protect Alberto and keep him out of trouble and the boys succeeded in doing so. We have a good mix of experienced and young riders and everyone did a perfect job. Tomorrow’s stage is somewhat similar and I don’t any GC riders make any sudden moves."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 1, 25th (s.t. Mezgec - 4:09:13). Contador in GC, 27th (0:10 Mezgec - 4:09:03)

TOP THREE: 1 Mezgec, 2 Howard (0:04), 3 Alaphilippe (0:06)

COMPLETE CLASSIFICATIONS


NEXT RACE: VOLTA A CATALUNYA (MARCH 23-30)

March 23, 2014 - Starting Monday, Alberto Contador and team face multiple climbs every day, but no time trial


pre-race training for La Volta 2014

Alberto Contador and his teammates train near Calella for the start of the Volta a Catalunya tomorrow (AC press room)

Alberto Contador starts his third stage race of the 2014 season – the Volta a Catalunya – tomorrow, where he arrives in competitive condition. “My state of form in Tirreno was good and I hope to be able to recover well during the upcoming days. I felt pretty fatigued at home. I finished Tirreno-Adriatico more tired than I thought, because the stages were very long and grueling, but, I hope, to feel well, even if it’s a bit of an effort to get started.” This morning he spent a couple of hours training in the surroundings of Calella and was able to enjoy the good weather.

About the parcours of this year’s Volta, he singles out “Stages 3 and 4, especially the latter, with the finish at Walter 2000, but it will be a very open race, since there are bonifications every day, there are no flat stages and there will be a lot of action by the whole peloton.”

The lack of a time trial could work to his advantage or not, says Alberto, taken in the context of his various opponents. “You never know. Sometimes, when you’re up against a pure climber, it benefits you, and when you’re up against a rider who’s very strong against the clock, it’s not good. In the end, you have to take the route, which is what it is, and adapt to it.”

Tinkoff-Saxo has suffered the eleventh-hour loss of Rafal Majka, for whom Jesper Hansen will fill in. In spite of the personnel change, Contador is happy with his teammates here and has full confidence in them. “We have a young but very motivated team and I’m sure that they will respond perfectly,” he concluded.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

Tinkoff-Saxo's directeur sportif, Philippe Mauduit, had this to say about the parcours of La Volta and Contador's chances: “As you know it’s never easy to win such race. The race level will be at the highest and the profile of the race pretty hard. In the past few years the first two stages were offering a surprising scenario so we have to be ready and never forget that everything can happen.

"After those first two stages, we enter mountain terrain where I expect a big fight between the GC riders. We will have to do our best to support Alberto and we have the team to do so. Of course after Tirreno everybody expects Alberto doing another spectacular show but we have to bear in mind that he did some thing incredibly outstanding in Tirreno and it's really difficult to produce such performance at that level of competition. So we will take it day by day and the team will do their best to give him the support he deserves."


TIRRENO VICTORY "VERY SPECIAL" TO CONTADOR

March 19, 2014 - Alberto: Trident trophy "will have a special place in my living room”


2014 Tirreno-Adriatico MARCA | This interview by Chema Bermejo was published in Spanish yesterday after the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.

How do you rate this win?
For me, it’s a very important victory. I’m very happy with my performance, with the results and with the way that I won it. Everyone dreams of getting a victory like the one I got at Guardiagrele. I’ve already had the opportunity to see it on video and the truth is, it’s a stage that I’ll always remember.

Photo, right: MARCA

It comes with a lovely trophy.
Yes. It’s one of a kind. It will have a very special place in the living room of my house, not only because it’s lovely, but because it’s been a very special victory. Attacking at 30 kilometers from the finish and winning is complicated, normally you don’t have the legs to pull it off. It’s been one of the three or four happiest days of my career.”

You made an impressive showing?
I’ve gotten close to my best level and now it’s time to keep working every time to improve. This victory has given me a lot of motivation for the Volta a Catalunya.

Froome will be there.
Froome and many other champions. It’s very good for cycling that the you can see the best riders in as many races as possible, that they don’t just meet in the Tour.

When will we see you in the Giro d’Italia?
It’s too soon to talk about that. For this season, my calendar is focused on the Tour and the Vuelta. Maybe next year. What I can say is that in Italy I feel at home. It’s been incredible to see how many people shout my name. That makes everything simpler.

After his victory, Alberto Contador is third in the World Tour ranking with 112 points, with Colombian Carlos Alberto Betancur leading and Australian Simon Gerrans second with 114 points.


ROZ JONES CAPTURES CONTADOR TRIUMPH AT FUENTE DÉ

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


Triumph for Alberto Contador at Fuente Dé

Triumph for Alberto Contador at Fuente Dé

Triumph for Alberto Contador at Fuente Dé

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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