Alberto Contador, who dropped out of the Tour de France in July with a broken leg, has announced that he will ride in the upcoming Vuelta a España, his home Grand Tour, but expects to be fighting for stage wins at best.
The Tinkoff-Saxo team leader, who has won the Vuelta twice (2008 and 2012) released a video in which he said, “I’ve been riding my bike for last ten days, and yesterday was the first day I could climb a mountain pass without knee pain, and that excites me, motivates me and led me to take the decision that I will ride the Tour of Spain.”
Contador crashed in Stage Ten of the Tour de France, July 14, breaking his right tibia. He finished the stage, amazingly, but had to withdraw overnight.
He plans to start the Vuelta a mere 40 days after his crash, with only two weeks of riding to prepare.
“Perhaps in the last week, I can fight for a stage win,” Contador said in the video. “It will be a very different Vuelta than I had considered earlier in the season, but I think it can be very good for me looking ahead to remainder of this season and the start of next year.”
Alberto Contador (L) rides in the pack during the Stage Seven of the 101st edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 11, 2014. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images)
2014 had been a good year for Alberto Contador before his crash: the 31-year-old Spaniard had entered five races, winning two and finishing second three times. The cycling world was eager to see the multiple Grand Tour winner face off in the Tour de France against Sky’s Chris Froome and Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali: the three best stage-racers currently on the WorldTour were slated to settle which was really the best.
Chris Froome had to withdraw halfway through Stage Five after three crashes in two days; Contador dropped out after Stage Ten, and Vincenzo Nibali added a Tour de France title to his Giro and Vuelta wins. The grand showdown never happened.
It won’t happen at the Vuelta, either. Chris Froome will be there; he has apparently completely recovered from his fractured wrist and hand. Nibali is sitting out the Vuelta, resting up after his exertions in Jjuly. And Alberto Contador is riding more to please his Spanish fans and to earn some UCI points for the Tinkoff-Saxo team.
Still, cycling fans cvan hope that at least once in the mountains Contador can light up a stage with his repeated attacks, putting Chris Froome to the test.
The 2014 Vuelta a España begins on Saturday, August 23 with a team time trial in Jerez de la Frontera.