Defending Giro d’Italia champion Alberto Contador will be watching this year’s corsa rosa on TV.
That’s just fine for Contador, who has bet everything on winning the Tour de France.
“I’m going to be able to enjoy it from home, even though good memories from last year will make me feel a little nostalgic. This year my objective is the Tour. There’ll be a time for going back to Italy,” Contador explained in a press note. “It’ll be a lovely Giro, with lots of very good riders fighting for victory. It’ll be quite interesting for the spectator.”
After a short break following his victory at the Vuelta al País Vasco last month, Contador is back on the bike.
While his Astana teammates Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer line up Saturday for the team time trial at the Giro, Contador is heading to the Pyrenees.
“I’m going to go scout out the Pyrenees stages, because I like to memorize them before the Tour. I like to see the terrain I’ll be passing through in the key moments of the race,”he said. “later on, go do reconnaissance of the Alps stages.”
The pistolero del Pinto said he will be alternating between specially designed training camps and workouts from his home in Pinto near Madrid. He will race again at June’s Dauphiné Libéré before an assault on the Tour.
“I’m coming back refreshed but I notice that my level of form has dipped, although this was precisely what I looked for, because I’d done a significant amount of work,” said the rider in reference to the first part of the season. “Now I’m going to increase training days bit by bit, to get the feelings back and prepare for the training camps that we’ve set.”
Last year, Tour de France officials blackballed Contador’s Astana team and kept them out of the 2008 Tour following a string of damaging scandals, including blood doping charges leveled at ex Astana riders Alexander Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin.
Contador turned what was a bitter disappointment of being unable to defend his 2007 Tour crown into a stellar consolation, winning both the Giro and Vuelta a España in 2008.
With the grand tour triple crown already on his palmares, Contador decided that his best bet to win a second Tour would be to skip the Giro and focus on the French grand tour.
On who he thinks will win the Giro, Contador narrowed it down to two riders.
“Clearly there are many favorites and lots of complicated days where you could lose a great deal of time, but if I had to choose two riders, it would be Ivan Basso and Levi Leipheimer,” Contador said. “There’s also Armstrong, Sastre, Cunego, DiLuca and many more who’ll be in the fight, but if I had to bet, it would be on Basso and Leipheimer.”
As for Lance Armstrong, Contador believes he will ride well in the Giro.
“He’s arriving with confidence, after having done a good race in New Mexico, and with desire, after getting over the crash at Castilla y León. I think that he’ll be at a very high level, even though he might be a little short of battling for the overall,” he said. “The Giro will be a very good tune-up for the Tour.”