Combative Contador ends Vuelta in search of another grand tour title

The Vuelta a España closed the grand tour cycling season and left Alberto Contador without another win to add to his seven titles.

Photo: BrakeThrough Media

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MILAN (VN) — The Vuelta a España closed the grand tour cycling season and left Alberto Contador without another win to add to his seven titles. The Spaniard will have to change that next year, perhaps his final as a professional cyclist.

The Vuelta a España organizer Unipublic gave Contador the most combative rider award in Madrid Sunday night for his fight over the last three weeks. Contador crashed, continued, and lit up the race even if he did not win or make the final podium.

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“I enjoyed racing at the Vuelta but, obviously, I am not happy with the fourth place,” Contador said in a Tinkoff team press release. “This was not at all our goal at the start; our aim was to win.”

Contador finished fourth, 4:21 behind winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Quintana should also award Contador, who began the fireworks early in the Formigal stage and helped distance Sky’s Chris Froome. Quintana, without the added 2:43 minutes from that day, would have had a hard time keeping the red jersey past the time trial Friday in Calpe.

After the effort, Contador went from sixth to fourth place. He jumped another spot after the time trial. But a similar early aggressive move by Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica – BikeExchange) in the final mountain day saw Contador fall from third to fourth.

The final classification sheet that the organizer handed out Sunday listed Quintana on top, Froome in second at 1:23, Chaves in third at 4:08, and Contador at 4:21 back.

“Sure, I lost the podium only by a little bit, but I came to win, not for the podium,” said Contador. “I demand a lot of myself. I could not win, but I am satisfied with the Vuelta that I raced.”

Now he has to think about the rest of his season, which he typically ends in Italy at Milano-Torino and Il Lombardia.

“We will see what we can achieve in terms of WorldTour Team ranking. This being the final year of Tinkoff it is important to close the curtain on a high note.”

Contador should race with Trek – Segafredo next season, but the official confirmation is yet to come from the American WorldTour team. He will lead the team in Tour de France and perhaps the Giro d’Italia. That will be his chance to win an eighth grand tour title.

“Trek should take him to the Tour de France,” said Tinkoff sport director, Sean Yates last week. “It’s the big one and he still wants to win it again. He will do what he can to be back and be as good as he can in that Tour.”

The 33-year-old is insisting on keeping the suspense high heading toward the end of the season. He explained there could be “a few surprises” soon. “My brother has been working on this, perhaps there could be a surprise,” Contador told Spanish media. “We’ll see in the coming days.”

Contador has been working to beef up his under-23 team in order to take it to the next level, perhaps riding as the team’s star as early as 2017. Sources close to the project, however, say it is more likely in 2018 than in 2017.

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