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Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) reconfirmed he will not defend his Vuelta a España crown, but hopes to race the world championships later this season.
Speaking to the Spanish daily MARCA, Contador said defending his Vuelta victory of 2012 was never in his plans.
“The Vuelta was never on my calendar and that’s the main reason I am not going to defend my victory of last year,” Contador told MARCA.
“Also, Saxo-Tinkoff has a strong block of riders who have been subject to me all season and who can do well individually. [Rafal] Majka, [Nicolas] Roche, and [Roman] Kreuziger, if they decide to race, can do well and fight for the podium.”
Contador had already told journalists at the end of the Tour de France, where he finished fourth overall, that he was not going to the Vuelta. Team boss Bjarne Riis, however, suggested the decision had not been finalized.
Contador’s comments in Saturday’s edition of MARCA, taken ahead of a gran fondo in Italy, are the latest confirmation that he will not be in Galicia on August 24 when the Vuelta starts.
Instead, Contador said he would focus on a series of one-day races, including GP de Plouay in France, followed by the Canadian WorldTour events at Quebec and Montreal, and end with Milano-Torino and the Giro di Lombardia. He also expressed interest in racing the world championships in Florence.
Contador also outlined his frustration about his performance during the Tour, suggesting that he posted his best numbers in pre-Tour tests, but could not deliver during the race.
“Cycling is not a question of mathematics, and sometimes the body doesn’t respond,” he said. “Before the Tour, we made various tests, and the results were the best I’ve ever had, both in terms of power numbers and times.
“Nevertheless, when I arrived in Corsica, the sensations were not good from the very first day, and the watts were worse during the race than during training, and the result was what it was.”
For 2014, Contador said the Tour will be his top priority, and reconfirmed his optimism he can still challenge for the overall victory despite this year’s impressive performance from Chris Froome and Team Sky.
Contador also refused to comment on statements from team sponsor Oleg Tinkov, and the Russian’s departure from the team next season.
“That’s a topic I prefer not to comment on,” he said. “I am not worried about the team. We’ve built a strong unit and I am confident we’ll continue ahead.”