On Sunday, Alberto Contador will start his second race of the 2016 season, out of the four he has scheduled for the first cycle of the year. Following his first race in Algarve, a fortnight ago, “not a lot of things have changed, apart from recovering from the effort put in, trying to step up the intensity of my training sessions and putting more speed in the legs,” explains Tinkoff’s leader.
Another factor which gives his return to the race a certain dimension is that he hadn’t taken part for a long time. “The last time I raced was in 2010”, recalls Alberto. “I return to the race that revealed me as a rider, in 2007, and which in some aspect was the springboard for the Tour de France.”
For Alberto, Paris-Nice “is a special race where I have always performed well. In addition, it is a very important one in terms of preparation because it gives you pace and provides a good base for the rest of the year. On the other hand, it’s also a complicated race, because of the big number of rivals, its parcours and the often tough weather conditions.”
Alberto showed good early season form with a stage win in Portugal in February. Photo by Bettini Photo
Looking to this year’s course, Contador highlights that “it is one of the toughest that I can recall, very hilly, but on the other hand it kicks off with a flat prologue that isn’t technical at all, very well suited to specialists. I miss the time-trial on Col d’Eze which I have never been able to race, but instead it has two summit finishes, one for heavier riders and another for climbers.”
Tinkoff’s leader heads to the start line of Paris-Nice with the same mindset he had in Algarve. “I’d like this first part of the season to be as good as possible but it’s certain Paris-Nice is a top-level race in which everybody wants to win, even if it’s a demanding one due to the level of the rivals and the difficulty in controlling it. Tinkoff heads to Paris-Nice with the intention to race well and fight for victory.”
Last, but certainly not least, Alberto highlights Tinkoff’s good start to the season. “We started getting results early on a very special year for us, as it is the last one for Oleg Tinkov as owner and for Tinkoff Bank as sponsor. For that reason as well, we have been working very well, with the team split in various groups. Some riders went to Australia and Tour de San Luis, and we had high-altitude training camps on Teide and in Sierra Nevada. We all are very satisfied with the way we got off and, in my case, I’m happy with the squad that will flank me in Paris-Nice,” concluded Contador.
The full Tinkoff line-up together with the team’s goals and thoughts from Sport Director Steven de Jongh will be revealed tomorrow.