Alberto Contador — Interview by Josu Garai/MARCA

    • Filled in News in English 16 Сентябрь 2009 в 1:04, author: KazakhNeRider
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    Interview by Josu Garai/MARCA
    While packing his bags for traveling to Germany with his brother Fran—namely, to Eurobike, the bicycle trade fair par excellence—Alberto Contador (Pinto, 1982) answered MARCA’s call. His technical sponsors Giro, Look and Sidi demand his presence in cycling’s greatest showroom, and the Madrileño doesn’t hesitate to satisfy them, in thanks for a year of work well done.
    How’s it going, watching the Vuelta from the sidelines?
    Very well, I feel a little twinge at not being there, but seeing the crash on Tuesday—the one that happened at 3 km from the finish at Liége—dampened my enthusiasm a bit, because I’m almost sure that I would’ve been caught, since it took place near the front where the favorites usually are. When they get to the mountains, I’m sure that it’ll be different, but in these early stages, I thought: I’m not missing anything.
    So we see that you’re following the Vuelta in detail.
    Yes, I’m watching it, although I’m traveling a little here and there. When I get back from Germany, I’ve got to go to Belgium again, because I’ve got a criterium on Sunday.
    You just don’t stop. How many criteriums have you ridden?
    Uff, I don’t know for sure. I think it’s six, seven counting this one. And I still have others left: Alcobendas, Cancún, Curaçao…and if the dates square up, also the ACP criterium.
    Have you concluded your official race season already?
    Yes, practically, because I just spoke with José Luis de Santos, the Spanish national selector, and even though I still train, and I’m going quite fast and there’s nothing bad going on, we agreed that I’m not going to do the time trial at the Worlds.
    With the season almost over, at least in your case, you can draw up a report card. What grade do you give yourself?
    I’m not a person who keeps score, but I would grade it pretty high on the scale because I’ve achieved my goal, which was to win the Tour. Besides that, I won other races, like the Algarve and País Vasco, plus some stages. I also did a good Dauphiné, where I took third. Although I did a great Paris-Nice too, I would subtract a point or two there, because I made a mistake, even though my level was very good there as well.
    What happened at Paris-Nice also served to teach you a lesson, wouldn’t you say?
    It did. When things go well and they’re accompanied by results, you don’t learn as much as when you lose and make mistakes. In that sense, what happened to me at Paris-Nice was beneficial in the long run.
    This year, have we seen the best Alberto Contador ever?
    In the Tour, yes. Much higher than in the past? —no, but a little better. On some days I had the absolute best sensations, both in the mountains and in the time trial.
    What was your best day at the Tour?
    Well, the one in Andorra, the finish at Arcalis, no comparison. What happened is that I couldn’t take advantage of it because the situation wasn’t what I needed.
    After the problems that there were in coexisting in the team, I imagine that you arrived at the first mountain stage with a lot of accumulated rage.
    It was not so much rage, it was that I knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, because we’re talking about one of the few summit finishes, and everybody knew that the Tour 2009 wasn’t as hard as other years and the few available opportunities had to be taken advantage of, even though I didn’t get the win because I was behind in the standings when I started and only got a few seconds of gap.
    In case there was any doubt about your performance, in the end you won the crono at Annecy.
    I’m very happy about that, because I’d never won a time trial at the Tour. But it favored me because we had been competing for many days, and specialists suffer more in the mountains.
    A few days ago, Johan Bruyneel explained on these same pages that the Astana team didn’t do anything contrary to your interests, so we’ll put the question to you. Is it true?
    Well, the team followed conservative tactics overall, when to me at certain times it would have worked in my interest for the race to go faster. As for harming me, it didn’t harm me, but it’s clear to me that I would have done better if the race had gone faster at certain times.
    We’re not saying that it harmed you, but they didn’t ride like they were supporting you, right?
    Yes, that’s right. The team didn’t harm me and in the end the results were very good, but yes, at certain times I would’ve liked it if the team had ridden differently.
    Let’s talk about the Vuelta. Aren’t you jealous? They say that it’s very hard, that it would've gone very well for you.
    Seeing the crashes and the tension in the first few days, I’m not too jealous, but when they get to the mountains, I’m sure I will be, although one can’t be everywhere all at once. The route would go well for me, but not only for me, for other people, too. Besides, there are times when it seems like the route is going well for you, and then the results are bad.
    Who do you think are the favorites?
    I see three or four… I think Alejandro (Valverde) has a great opportunity, and if he isn’t the top candidate, he’ll be one of the three or four with the best chances. Another rider who has prepared conscientiously and comes with desire is Basso. It looks like he’s making a serious play and he’s very involved in the race. Then, there’s another person that knows what it’s like to be on the podium, and although right now he’s lost a few seconds in crashes, in the end, he’ll be very close. That’s Samuel Sánchez. But there are more: Gesink, Evans, Antón, Mosquera. Tondo could be the revelation…
    We’re forgetting the Schleck brothers, your rivals in the Tour.
    Maybe I’m confused, but this month I’ve spent a lot of afternoons with them—at the criteriums—and I don’t think that they’re coming with the intention to ride to win the Vuelta, although likewise, they’re doing well and they’re warmed up. But I don’t know to what extent you should count them in.
    And Evans, after his bad Tour, will he be able to be at a great level in the Vuelta?
    He’s an extremely high quality rider and has already demonstrated in past years that he can be in the fight for the overall, but he’s taken so many beatings this year that, at this point, I don’t know if he’s recovered from the effort. It’s an unknown. Maybe in the end he’ll be close, but he’s slightly under par because of the amount of effort he’s already put in this year.
    Although this year you’re not in the game, in 2008 you were the winner of the Vuelta. Are you coming back in 2010?
    That’ll depend largely on how the season goes and on the interests of the team I’m riding for. The Vuelta has left me with a fantastic feeling, but I also really like the Giro. But the main goal in 2010 again will be the Tour, later we’ll see what interests us most. I’m not closing any doors.
    Can a person do two grand tours well in the same year? You’re already mature enough.
    Obviously, it’s possible, but if I don’t need to, I won’t, because I still have enough years of cycling left and I’ve also got to think about resting. Giro and Tour, or Tour and Vuelta, that’s more complicated than Giro and Vuelta, because there’s hardly time to rest.
    Does it cost you to do two big stage races?
    Last year I finished very tired, physically and psychologically, even though I acknowledge that Armstrong’s return to the team also had a lot of influence.
    Speaking about Armstrong, has he already forgotten all the quarrels, has he turned the page? Or does the rivalry live on?
    For my part, I’ve turned the page. It served to teach me a lot of things, like how to stay calm in limited situations. Overall, I believe that it was good for me, for growing as a rider and as a person. But now the only thing I’m thinking about is the future.

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