On the second rest day of the Giro d'Italia 2015, Tinkoff-Saxo and Alberto Contador held a press conference in which the team captain assessed the situation he will be facing in the last and decisive week. Tinkoff-Saxo's leader acknowledged that he came to Italy “better than I imagined, but there is still a lot of race ahead.”
-What is the experience you have of the Mortirolo? Do you know it and have you been there recently?
“The first memory I have of the Mortirolo climb is from 2008, when I came to the Giro by chance and at that stage I had to keep the pink jersey with a lead of only 4 seconds. Ricco tested me, but I could withstand and I ultimately kept the jersey. In 2011 we didn't climb it, but last year I did a Granfondo and climbed it again. It is a pass that I like. It’s very hard and you can create the differences. We'll have to see what happens after the rest day”
-Is the Mortirolo the most important obstacle until the end of the Giro?
“No, there are others as well. There are three mountain stages left and two other stage which, as we have seen in this Giro, could also prove decisive, because in every stage anything can happen”
-What is the hardest climb you’ve done in competition?
“There are several. The highlight would be Zoncolan because it gives you no rest. I would place it above Mortirolo and Angliru”
Richie Porte went home today, but what do you think of him as a rider? Do you think he can win a big Tour in the future?
“When he is in shape, he is a strong rider on the climbs and in the time trials. Maybe in the future, as he's a good rider in the different disciplines, when he is in shape. Why not? Yes, of course he could do that in the future”
Do you exclude with certainty the Vuelta a España this year?
“Now I'm only thinking about the Giro. Then I'll think about the rest of the season. I will not be at the Vuelta, unless something happens to me in the Tour, such as a crash or if I don't feel well, but under normal circumstances it isn't part of my plans”
Did you imagine being in this situation on the second rest day of the Giro?
“I didn’t imagine being in this situation with these time differences here before the final week. I thought I could have the jersey, but also that these stages in last week could be my chance to get the jersey. I am happy with this situation and I'm better than I expected, but an important part of the race remains”
Is the difference between you and Aru just about the legs or is it also the experience?
“In the time trial it was the legs, no doubt, but both count. I have already ridden many big Tours and he has less under his belt than me. However, Aru is a great rider, the press will be talking a lot about him and he will do great things in the future. He is a hard rider and there is still a week of racing left”
Alberto, if you were a 24-year old rider, what would you do to beat someone like this Contador?
“When I finish the Giro, we'll talk again” (laughs)
In the final part of your career, do you already think about leaving the best memories possible?
“I would like to finish my career on top fighting for the big Tours. And if I can’t win I’ll like to be as close as possible. I don't know how long I might prolong my career, maybe a lot, but I've chosen this way and still think about retiring at the highest level. I know the Giro-Tour challenge is complicated, but one of the reasons is this”
When you won the Giro in 2008, some people criticized you that you didn't win any stage. Is it important now to win a stage or to save energy thinking about the Tour?
“Right now, a stage victory is secondary, I cannot jeopardize the GC, which is my goal. If it comes, fine, but on the other hand, winning one of the remaining stages would require an effort of more than an hour and I can pay a price for that, not only in view of my program, but also in relations to the last week here at the Giro”
Who are the other two riders for the podium?
“That will depend on how every rider is and also on how I am, because I also couldn't be there. There’re a number of riders, such as Amador, Trofimov and König, who are fine, besides Astana's riders, especially Aru and Landa. We have to see what tactics they use to fight for the GC, but it is difficult to make a forecast. Normally, if Landa has some freedom, he will be there, and also Aru, because he's sitting in second with more than two minutes back to third place”
Doing the Giro-Tour double is more difficult because others like Froome or Quintana have chosen to exclusively ride the Tour. Would it be easier if they were all here?
“It's complicated. You have to ask them and it isn't only these two, it is also Nibali and other new riders. When I started, I raced against the generation of Evans, Leipheimer and Armstrong, with other riders a bit younger than me, such as Nibali or Andy Shleck. Now, it's with Quintana and Aru. There have been many riders in my ten-year career and new riders will always come. It’s hard to schedule a calendar where everybody races at the same time”