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by Shane Stokes
October 21, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
Alberto Contador’s goal of winning one more Tour de France before he retires got a boost on Tuesday when a route was unveiled that the Spaniard believe will play to his strengths.
“Overall, it is a parcours that I like,” he said, while noting that in Grand Tours things are unpredictable. “Without any doubt, it can be a nice and attractive Tour and I will prepare for it one hundred percent.”
Contador won the Tour de France in 2007, taking the yellow jersey after the-then leader Michael Rasmussen was removed from the race. He missed the event in 2008 when his Astana team wasn’t invited, but returned the following year and dominated.
He was also first home in 2010, but later lost that title due to a Clenbuterol positive.
In addition to his success in France, he has also taken two editions of the Giro d’Italia, in 2008 and 2015, plus three of the Vuelta a España. He won these in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
In recent years he was fourth in the 2013 Tour, withdrew last year after crashing out and then finished a fatigued fifth this season after winning the Giro d’Italia.
He has said that the 2016 season will likely be his last before retirement, and has made winning another Tour de France his prime objective before hanging up his wheels.
In that light, seeing next year’s course outline was very important for him. The route features two stages against the clock and also plenty of climbing.
He explains how he sees the race.
“Next year’s parcours appears to be very difficult. One has to start in good form because the fifth stage already has a fairly demanding finish,” he said.
“The two time trials stand out and are probably the ones that make the difference from the 2015 parcours. Both time trials are tough, the first one not excessively long. I like them both.”
As for the climbing legs, he’s pleased with what he saw. “The mountain stages are evenly spread out from start to finish and you will have to manage your forces very well in order not to reach the final stages worn out.
“Is it a Tour for climbers? Yes, it is, although last year’s Tour was even more since it didn’t have so many time trials. It clearly is a course well suited to the profile of climbers.”
The team’s head directeur sportif Steven de Jongh describes the parcours as very challenging. He believes the early stages could suit Peter Sagan, who will be racing for the team in the rainbow jersey of world champion, and describes the Alpine climbs as short and intense.
This tends to suit Contador, who is an attacking rider.
“The first stages of the Tour are always very nervous with a lot of tension and any adverse weather could also be an important factor,” he said, giving his own assessment.
“Then the mountains at the end of the race in the Alps are all short and intense and will decide the Tour. But first we have to tackle the Pyrenees with a hard summit finish in Andorra above 2000 meters altitude.
“Stage 12 to Mont Ventoux will naturally provide a stunning backdrop to a very difficult stage, where the heat and wind can play a pivotal role. But what is also interesting is the 37km time trial the day after to the Gorges de l’Ardéche and the riders have to tackle it with Ventoux still fresh in the legs.”
He confirmed that winning the race with Contador is the big goal, but said it is too soon to go into specifics about how that can be done.
“We will have to study the parcours in detail and evaluate our strategy in due time.”
Also see: Mountainous 2016 Tour de France unveiled; Andorra, Ventoux and Switzerland all feature