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Heading into what will almost certainly be his final season in pro cycling, Alberto Contador is putting all his chips on yellow. While 2015 saw him tackle the dual aims of Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, his fatigue in the latter and desire for one last maillot jaune on the Champs Elysees has prompted him to say that the Tour will be his all-consuming goal in the season ahead.
With that in mind, he has laid out a schedule that he hopes will get to him to the race in prime condition and ready to beat rivals such as Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana for yellow.
According to Biciciclismo, his season will begin on February 17 in the five-day Volta ao Algarve.
He’ll then head to Paris Nice (March 6 – 13), the Volta a Catalunya (March 21 – 27), and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (April 4-9).
After that, his final pre-Tour race will be the Criterium du Dauphine, which begins on June 5 and runs until the 12th of that month.
At this point in time just three more races are on his schedule, beginning on July 2 with the Tour. After that, what could be the final races of his career will take place in Rio, with the Spaniard competing in the Olympic road race and time trial on August 6 and 10 respectively.
Contador has said that there are only two conditions whereby he will race into 2017.
“Unless I suffer a fall like that of 2014 [in the Tour] or if I start my own project in the very short term, my idea is still finish at the end of next season,” he stated in September.
He has indicated that he likes the route of the 2016 Tour de France, believing that it is a course that should suit his characteristics.
What will be encouraging for Contador fans is that he is almost exactly replicating his buildup for the 2014 Tour. On that occasion he rode the same races, other than competing in Tirreno-Adriatico rather than Paris-Nice. He said he was possibly in his best-ever Tour form starting the race, although he was unable to deliver on that as he crashed out.
Getting to the start line again in the same condition is the goal, and in following the tried and tested formula he believes that he will be ready to go when the race rolls out from Mont Saint Michel on July 2.