Victorious in 2008, 2012 and 2014, and one of the world’s best stage racers, Alberto Contador is aiming for a fourth success at his home Grand Tour, La Vuelta a España. After his disappointment at withdrawing from the Tour de France, his primary goal of the season, due to injury, Alberto soon refocused his targets on the third Grand Tour of the season.
Alberto crashed on both the first and second stages of the Tour de France, but battled on through the first week before finally succumbing to injury and illness as a result of his falls, stepping off the bike on stage 9. However, in his usual fighting spirit he was back racing at the Clasica San Sebastian and, soon after, at the Vuelta a Burgos where he took the overall race victory with a powerful climbing performance on the final stage.
All of his bad luck is now behind him and Contador focuses only on his next challenge. “Certainly, my goal at the Vuelta is to fight for victory. That’s the idea with which I am going to Galicia, we will then see if we can achieve it, because I will have to face very strong opponents with powerful squads. We will have to take it day-by-day and I just hope I’m a little bit luckier to enjoy the race and the fans. At the Vuelta, the affection of the public has always been amazing and reliving that is something I look forward to. Furthermore, this will be my last Grand Tour with Tinkoff and I would like to finish it in the best way.”
Joining Tinkoff’s GC captain at the race is a team that will boast both a wealth of experience, and also a host of talent capable of supporting their captain across all the terrains that lie ahead. The Spaniard will be assisted in the mountains and on the shallower climbs by Jesús Hernández, Robert Kiserlovski, Sergio Paulinho and Ivan Rovny. For the flatter and intermediate stages, the team also has Daniele Bennati, Manuele Boaro, Michael Gogl and Yuri Trofimov to count on.
“It’s obvious that we have only one leader at the race, that’s Alberto,” explained Sport Director Steven De Jongh when discussing the line-up for the race. “After his crash in the Tour he came back quite well in Burgos – he took the win but still had to work a bit on his condition which is what he’s been doing since, followed by some rest days. I think he can do a great race here – it will be a strong field with the likes of Froome, Quintana, Kruiswijk and Chaves but we’re ready.
“We’ve got a balanced team around Alberto and I think being so clear with one goal, it’s clear for the riders what their focus is. They can be part of something special at the last Grand Tour for Tinkoff, so hopefully we can finish well.
“We have Bennati, Boaro, Gogl, and Paulinho who can support really well on the less hard days, with Paulinho also a strong rider for the hills. Then we have Kiserlovski, Hernández, Rovny and Trofimov who can do their bit in the mountains.”
The race gets underway on Saturday 20th August with a team time trial around the Castrelo de Miño reservoir, before coming to a close three weeks later on Sunday 11th September with a sprinters’ showdown in the country’s capital, Madrid. The race includes no less than 10 summit finishes, including the infamous climb of the Lagos de Covadonga – an average gradient of 7.3% over its 12.6km distance. Other key summit finishes include the stage eight climb of La Camperona, and also the Col d’Aubisque on stage 14.
De Jongh continues: “There are ten mountain top finishes this year and we hope to pick up a stage win along the way. To pin-point some of the key stages, there’s the finish up the Col d’Aubisque and also stage 20 – I think those two can be critical, but there’s a lot of hard stages and like always it will be a really hard Vuelta. The weather can also play its part so you have to take it day-by-day as every stage can bring a surprise.”