TALLARD, France (VN) — Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) remains uncertain whether he’ll be able to race the Vuelta a España next month.
Still recovering from his horrific crash in stage 10, Contador appeared on Spanish television Saturday, commenting on the stage won by Tinkoff-Saxo teammate Rafal Majka. Contador confirmed his Vuelta appearance is far from guaranteed.
“I’d like to have options, but it won’t be easy. My leg limits me a lot,” Contador said on Teledeporte. “The swelling has decreased a bit, but the pain is still pretty bad. And the stitches that I have need to stay for three weeks, and because where the injury is, it could open up, and delay things even more. That would be three weeks off the bike, too much.”
Contador had planned to race both the Tour and Vuelta this year. Last year, he did not return to the Spanish tour to defend his title from 2012, but promised organizers he would be back this year. Contador always races to win, and said he would not want to go if he wasn’t in top shape.
“It’s truly complicated, because it’s not just a question of going to the Vuelta, but to be in condition,” he said. “I love to race, and I want to compete, and I want to enjoy being in my home country’s tour, but we’ll have to see if I can arrive there at an average level. It won’t be easy.”
Contador didn’t discount racing in other events, but said if he’s unable to reach a top level, he would forget the rest of this season and begin preparations for the 2015 Tour.
“This year couldn’t have gone better. From the beginning of the season, the results were there, and it was perhaps the best start of a season I’ve ever had,” Contador said. “The sensations at the Tour were great, and then all of sudden, you’re on the sofa, and waiting for days to pass by. I’d love to be at the Vuelta, but we have to see if I can we can get there.
“I am motivated for the future, and we hope the recuperation will go well as can be expected, and I can return to the Tour as good as this year, or even better.”
Contador cited changes in his approach to the Tour, limiting his sponsor obligations, and spending more time at altitude. Now based in Lugano, Switzerland, Contador also trains daily with teammates Sergio Paulinho, Jesús Hernández, and Michael Rogers, who also live in the area, with manager Bjarne Riis motor-pacing them.
Contador also described his crash in detailed fashion:
“It was very frustrating because I am a rider who is careful down to the last detail. Some wondered if I took too much risk; I am a rider who knows what he’s doing, and what’s important is not to do something blindly, being aware, and trying to avoid the risks. You try to steer clear of danger. And that’s why I get so angry to have had a crash like the one I had when I am especially careful in all the details.
“I am a rider who usually gets up quickly from a crash because I know how important it is to get back to the pack. When I crashed, even though it was just a fraction of a second, I had time to think to myself, ‘Oh, I am going fast!’ I was lucky enough, I got back up, and I checked myself over, and I looked at my legs, and I could see the injury was deep, but it still wasn’t bleeding.
“Nico (Roche) gave me his bicycle, and as soon as he saw me, he said, ‘Alberto, this looks serious, just try to finish the stage.’ I then began to bleed quite a bit. I stopped, covered it with my glove, and waited for the doctor to come, and I told him to cover up the cut.
“My shoe was completely broken. I was only thinking about finishing the stage with the grupetto, but I quickly saw with how serious things were, and I couldn’t continue. I had an insupportable pain, and I couldn’t keep pedaling. When I got off the bike, I couldn’t bend the leg within five seconds, because the legs tightened up very quickly. It was very sad to tell my teammates I couldn’t continue.
“Later, the time from the car to the medical car was a bad moment with so many emotions. You start thinking about how much work you put into it, all that you’ve fought for, and how I spent 20 days at altitude. Everything was going perfectly, and the legs were responding well, and then in a second, everything is lost.
“That’s cycling. You have to look to the bright side; I had a horrible crash, and I am still here. If not, you can never get over it.”