Contador aims to make history with rare double
Alberto Contador said yesterday that it was only the possibility of making history at this year's Tour de France, and cementing his legacy by claiming a rare Giro d'Italia-Tour double, that was keeping him fully motivated.
Not since Marco Pantani in 1998 has a rider won the Giro and the Tour back-to-back, so gruelling are the demands placed on the riders by the two three-week stage races.
Going back further only the great Belgian Eddy Merckx, who won four consecutive grand tours in 1972-1973, and France's Bernard Hinault, who won three on the trot in 1982-1983, have held all three of cycling's grand tour titles at the same time.
Contador, though, is just three and a bit weeks away from pulling off his own 'grand slam'.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider was the star attraction yesterday as thousands of teams, journalists and officials descended on Utrecht for a first day of press conferences ahead of tomorrow's grand depart.
And he put in a business-like performance, saying he expected to face a stiff challenge for the yellow jersey from Chris Froome (Team Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
"I'm in good shape," said the seven-time grand tour winner who was stripped of two further titles for doping.
For some, pulling off the double this summer would only fuel their suspicions. Contador, though, said he was focused and warned that he saw this summer's challenge as only half completed.
"I've missed out on parties, dinners, going out, and I hope that's enough," he said. "In my head I feel really motivated. How my body will react is a new challenge, but I'm very happy with the condition I have.
"If I were to win the Tour full stop, it wouldn't change my career so much. Something that people can remember is winning the Giro and the Tour in the same year."
Sitting next to him was his team-mate Peter Sagan, the three-time green jersey winner. The Slovakian said his goal in the race was to "do the best for the team, for Alberto" but he did not look too happy saying it. A potential fault line for Contador's rivals to exploit perhaps. (© Daily Telegraph, London)