The reigning Tour de France champ, Alberto Contador, said Friday he will kick off his 2010 season with Portugal’s Tour de Algarve, which runs February 17-21.
“Last year I liked the race and I think it’s ideal to start the season,” said Contador, who also won the Portuguese race last year. “After that, I’ll go to the Paris-Nice (beginning of March) where we’ll be mainly looking to work on a team level, concentrating on tactics and coordination.”
“In 2009 I won at Algarve, but this year I’m going to take it relatively easy, although I always like to be good at racing and I want to start,” he addded
Contador, winner of the Tour de France winner in 2007 and 2009, said that he was also planning to compete in the Tour of Catalonia from March 22-28 and the Tour of the Basque Country from April 5-10.
While plotting out his stage racing schedule, Contador was reluctant to commit to some of cycling’s biggest one-day events.
“I’m leaving the door open on the classics, we’ll decide on that later,” he said.
Looking back over a successful season, Contador said that 2009 turned out to be a remarkable year for him.
“The best moments have coincided with competition, because every time I raced the results have been with me and my legs responded,” he said. “As for the worst part, I can’t really say … nothing really bad happened. I cannot complain about 2009. Maybe there were a few moments there where I might have liked a little more peace and quiet, but I can’t complain.”
Contador said that hardest time of the year for him is the wait leading up to a new season.
“I’m impatient. I’m looking forward to racing because is what I enjoy, biking and racing,” he said.
“I’ve started training, but not too long ago, because at this time of year, you have to approach your work in a balanced fashion,” he said. “I have already made a first block of training and feelings I have are pretty good. I’m motivated, with enthusiasm and very happy with how I’m feeling on the bike in recent days.”
As he negotiated with Astana late in 2009, Contador made it clear that he did not want the team’s former leader, Alexander Vinokourov, to join him at this year’s Tour. In interviews this week, however, Contador was gracious in his praise for the entire Astana squad, while not directly mentioning the Kazakh national star.
“Really this team is like we start from zero, because almost everything is new,” Contador said. “I am confident about this year’s riders and I think we’ll make a strong and competitive team. Everyone is very motivated because we know we will always have a lot of responsibility and cannot go to the races and relax. The team will be at a maximum level.”