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"Saxo-Tinkoff wanted me to be here, and of course they are races that everyone likes to ride but to prepare the Tour de France it would perhaps have been better to skip them," Contador says

Photo: Sirotti

ALBERTO CONTADOR

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FLECHE WALLONNE

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LIÈGE - BASTOGNE - LIÈGE

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15.04.2013 @ 17:27 Posted by Frederik Palle Pedersen

Having had a satisfactory week of recovery after his 5th place in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) has decided to participate in the remaining two Ardennes classics, Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne and Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege. In a line-up also containing Amstel Gold Race winner Roman Kreuziger, the multiple grand tour winner gives his Saxo-Tinkoff team a number of options.

 

When Alberto Contador announced his racing program for the early part of the season, he was still undecided about participation in the Ardennes classics. At the end of his last pre-season spring objective in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco a week ago, he was still not able to given an answer to the question of a possible trip to Northern Europe.

 

Having had time to rest after his disappointing 5th place in the Basque Country, the Spaniard has now finally chosen to line up in the final two classics, the Fleche Wallonne and the Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The Belgian races are the most hilly of the one-day races in the spring and the ones most suited to his characteristics.

 

A well-rested body is the main reason for his choice.

 

 “This last week has been dedicated primarily to rest because I needed it, and I've only done two longer training rides to gain the endurance which is needed in these long races," he said. "The idea is to increase my condition and increase the chances of my team."

 

The decision was, however, not only due to his own desire to race. Having had a bad start to the season, the Saxo-Tinkoff is under increased pressure to get some results. Yesterday's victory for Roman Krezuiger in the Amstel Gold Race took away much of the stress but there is no doubt that more success in the final two Ardennes classics would be welcome in a team with only two victories this season.

 

"Saxo-Tinkoff wanted me to be here, and of course they are races that everyone likes to ride, but to prepare the Tour de France it would perhaps have been better to skip the. However, I only have to extend my spring schedule with one week and so I will try my best. Then I will take a short holiday before I start my preparations for the Tour."

 

However, he chose to delay the decision until the last minute to be sure that he will be competitive when he lines up in the star-studded fields.

 

"I wanted to do two trainings at the end of the week to see if the legs  were recovered because it would be useless to start the races if I was still tired," he said. "These training sessions were nothing special but I have a good level so why not give it a try?"

 

Contador is no classics specialist and his victory in the Milan-Torino in September was his first ever win in a one-day race. He last tried the Fleche-Liege double in 2010 where he took 3rd and 9th respectively and he was 11th in the mid-week classic in 2011.

 

The final on the Mur de Huy in the Fleche Wallonne has always been dear to his heart and the Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the most prestigious classic he can realistically target. There is no doubt that he - as usual - will go all out for the victory but he knows that he will face stiff competition from much more experienced classics specialists.

 

"There are several favourites but I don’t know the final start lists," he said. "If I had to point out some for the Fleche Wallonne, I would say Joaquim Rodriguez. In recent years he has finished second twice and won once  and that's not just a coincidence. Just below him I would place Gilbert and Valverde. For Liege I will name the same riders, plus Sagan if he will start (he will not, ed.). After them there is a group of riders who can be there depending on the development of the race. We are not fast in a sprint and have to find an opportunity."

 

With Kreuziger winning the first of the Ardennes classics, it is evident that Contador will for once not be the sole captain.

 

" In these races I will not be the sole leader because we have many riders with options," he said. "Roman Kreuziger is very strong now and is well suited to these races. I will be just be one more rider in the team."

 

You can follow all the action from both races on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

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