Giro d'Italia - Contador upbeat on Giro chances
Alberto Contador is upbeat about his condition going into the Giro d'Italia as he looks for his sixth Grand Tour victory.
Saxo Bank's Contador, Giro winner in 2008, has not competed in the world's second biggest stage race since as he has concentrated on July's Tour de France each year.
And despite the fallout from his positive test last year for clenbuterol, which Contador has blamed on contaminated meat, the 28-year-old is upbeat on his condition.
"In the last two months I've tried to do the best possible preparation without being without being obsessive. I think that I'm really well prepared, so I can't wait to get started," he said.
"After finishing FlÍche Wallonne, I went to Italy to see and explore four unbelievably hard Giro stages. Then I took the opportunity to do a three-day camp in the Sierra de Madrid to complete the tune-up.
"I've had a cold recently, and I've also had a little difficulty breathing, so I had to take it a bit easy at times. But on Saturday, when the race gets started, I'll be in good shape."
The Giro starts in Turin on Saturday with the most gruelling stage set to be a climb up Mount Etna on day nine and Contador is totally focused on the task ahead with his participation in the Tour still in doubt as he is waiting for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to rule on an appeal by the International Cycling Union and World Anti-Doping Agency over the Spanish federation clearing him of doping.
"In 2008, I was clueless about the Giro. I didn't know how it started or what the route was like or which riders were going. I knew absolutely nothing. This year, on the other hand, I know the riders that are going, I know the route, and I've been able to do preparations tailor-made for the Giro," he revealed.
"About the route, I think it's much harder this year than the one I rode in 2008. The team time trial though won't have the same significance that it has had on other occasions, like in the 2009 Tour, when it left its mark on the general classification. Here, it will serve to create some differences, but it won't be decisive at the end of the Giro.
"The mountain TT has some very tough stretches, and the last ITT is tough because everybody's legs will be shattered towards the end of the race, and that might tip the balance in the case of two riders being really close in the GC."
Despite being the hot favourite, Contador believes the pressure is on the home riders.
He added: "I'm sure that riders like (Vincenzo) Nibali and (Michele) Scarponi are under more pressure than I am. I take on the Giro in a totally different way than the Tour. In the Tour, I'm under much greater pressure than in the Giro.
"As I see it there are many, many rivals. I don't like to name names because you always fail to mention somebody, but I think that the ones who are most motivated and under the most pressure are Nibali, Scarponi and (Denis) Menchov.