Cycle//Vuelta a España
by Marcus Leach
The Vuelta a España continues today (Tuesday) after the first rest day and Alberto Contador, impressive thus far on his return from injury, is looking to keep his momentum going into the individual time trial.
Having crashed heavily in the Tour de France earlier this summer Contador was a doubt for the Vuelta but has recovered sufficiently from the fractured tibia he suffered to take part in his native race.
"It will be a good test to see exactly how my physical condition is," he said. "I don’t want to draw wrong conclusions after the last stage so I’ll wait for today to reach a verdict on my shape."
Contador said that the initial success he has had during the first part of the Spanish Grand Tour has encouraged him and furthered his ambitions.
"I’m now able to say that I will try to win the Vuelta," he revealed. "Another thing is if I have the legs or not. Even after the two mountain stages, I still don’t know it exactly. I have to wait until after the time trial to reach a final verdict. Since the start of the Vuelta, I’ve been focused on taking it day-by-day, but I think I'm getting better and I can say that I will try to win."
However, if he is to win the race he will have to fend off stiff competition from current leader Nairo Quintana, as well as long-standing rival Chris Froome, who is also returning from injury.
"The favourites are the same as they were in the beginning, Quintana and Froome, who’s expected to be the strongest in the time trial," he said.
"But Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde are also in contention. Apart from all the action that we’ve seen so far, there are almost no time differences and the favourites are all very close in the overall classification."
Alberto Contador won Vuelta a España in 2012, but he doesn't think that he's stronger than he was in 2012.
"The truth is that I am not better," he admitted. "The difference between now and 2012 is that two years ago there was a particularly strong rider, Joaquim Rodriguez, who always responded to changes of pace and attacked me on the final meters of each stage. We’ve not yet seen mountain stages like those, but I think he was better in 2012."