Even though Alberto Contador has just concluded his highly successful Vuelta a Espana campaign, a victory in his home Grand Tour had a somewhat bittersweet taste after Tinkoff-Saxo leader had crashed out of the Tour de France, biggest objective of 2014 season. For that reason the 31-year old Spaniard has already the next edition of le Grande Boucle on his mind, where he expects Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) to be his biggest rivals.
Contador, Froome and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) were expected to clash in this year’s Tour de France but only the latter made it to the final week to eventually emerge victorious, while Quintana was following entirely different race programme this season. There is a big possibility, however, that the big four will eventually meet in the 102nd edition of the French Grand Tour, as all cyclists have already called it their biggest objective of 2015.
Apparently ignoring the reigning Tour de France champion, Contador pointed out to Froome and Quintana as his main rivals in the upcoming season, and claimed to be eager to race against the latter as the pair didn’t have many occasions to battle each other in the past.
“He is very young and he will continue to get better,” Contador said of Quintana in an interview with Spanish sports daily Marca. “Perhaps Froome has a point in his favour in the time trial, he is very strong in that discipline.”
By this occasion, the Tinkoff-Saxo leader expressed regret that the young Colombian crashed out of the Vuelta in the beginning of the second week, as he expected the Movistar rider to animate the action in the toughest mountain stages.
“It would have been great for the race, because he is a rider that has form in the Grand Tours,” said Contador.
“We could have seen what place he could have finished. In the tough finishes on Farrapona or Ancares he would also have been up front, in those more explosive finals, if not both, but now we will not know. It was a shame, but fortunately we will have a chance to see it next year.”
Contador also revealed what motivated him to recover from tibia fracture sustained in the Tour de France crash quickly enough to return victorious at the Vuelta.
“(I had) the belief that if he could do it (make the Vuelta) then so could I,” explained Contador. “I saw the training data with the coach that had worked with them [Sky] and that knew the times that they had done. We compared than and sometimes they were better. That gives you confidence, but he is a very hard racer.”
Vuelta a Espana champion also explained that following Team Sky rider on decisive ascents of the Spanish Grand Tour wasn’t as easy as it looked.
“He puts out a very high wattage and also changes the rhythm. At times you do not appreciate it, because he attacks in the saddle, but he is constantly changing the rhythm. On Ancares, he did it eight or nine times. That is the moment where you have to hang on.”
Contador will not appear in the World Championships held in Ponferrada, but it expected to line-up at Il Lombardia as his final race of 2014 season.
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