Contador: "My candidates to win the Tour de France are Bernal, Roglic and Dumoulin"

In an interview with Eurosport, where he comments on the race, Contador expressed what he expects from the Tour, spoke about the withdrawal of Ineos and reviewed current events.


Alberto Contador leads Eurosport's team of experts and commentators for the Tour de France, broadcasting the race in its entirety and including up to 25 hours of exclusive content during the three weeks of competition. The pinteño ex-cyclist wanted to analyze some topics about the French round and also about the current situation of cycling.

- Who are the favorites for this year's edition?

- I would say there are three cyclists who are the main favorites. Egan Bernal, Roglic and Dumoulin are for me the main candidates to win the Tour de France this year, although we already know that anything can happen in a race like this.

- Is there a runner that you think will stand out especially this year?

- I think there are many cyclists who arrive at a good time. For example, Quintana is having a great season just like Pogačar who can do great things in this Tour de France. Enric Mas, with the quality he has, can also be one of the important cyclists this year without forgetting Miguel Ángel López of course. Alaphilippe is another of the big names that you always have to have on your radar.

- Will the fact that there has been this great stop due to the pandemic make it more open than other editions?

- I don't think so because we have seen that the teams have done their homework. Jumbo Visma and INEOS have been the clear dominators and it looks like they will continue to do so despite the improvement of other great teams.

- One of the last rules presented by the Tour says that a team with two positive cases of Covid is expelled from the race. Does this affect the way a team prepares and works before and during the race?

- That rule I don't think changes anything. The Tour itself will be thorough in terms of all the protocols to minimize risks and that we can enjoy a good race. But I do not think that it alters too much the preparation of the teams since as in any field, a positive result of COVID implies things that we already know and it is not a surprise.

- Should sprint arrivals change after what happened in the Tour of Poland between Fabio Jakobsen and Groenewegen?

- Sprints are part of this sport. In fact, they are a very important part, although the fans really enjoy the mountain stages, but the excitement and what is experienced in a key sprint for the race is very difficult to describe in words. These are moments you never forget.

- Do you see Jumbo Visma and Ineos as favorites?

- Totally. Both teams have earned enough reputations for us to be considered favorites for the Tour and probably for many other great races of the year.

- INEOS left out of Froome and Thomas for this issue. Was it a surprise?

- It is a bit surprising because both have won the Tour de France and they are a great flash for the peloton. Even more so looking at the team that presents the Jumbo Visma but I understand that this decision must have been chosen internally and for the team's own interests. Considering that Froome will change teams next year I don't know to what extent he would work for Egan Bernal the same as Thomas would. In the end, we only know very little about what happens within teams.

- Do you think INEOS was wrong by not choosing either of the two runners?

- The team will have their reasons for having decided this. Last year between Froome and Thomas we already saw some friction to call him in some way and I don't know if that has been able to influence. This decision is what he seeks is the well-being of the team and to face the Tour de France in a more united way.

- Was Astana wrong by not choosing Jakob Fuglsang for the TDF team or the Giro d'Italia and Fuglsang are a better fit?

- We are seeing different decisions that follow this line. Some teams opt for an alternative calendar and perhaps with Jakob they are looking for a different objective than in other years, such as focusing on the Giro d'Italia. Miguel Ángel López as I said before, is an important name for the Tour after the great Dauphiné he did.

- What do you think of Bjarne Riis' return to the Tour with his new team, NTT? Why is he such a good team manager, and where does he excel? In what ways do you think you could progress as a team manager? What is Bjarne Riis like as a person, and could you describe their relationship?

- His return is something very positive for everyone. He is the manager that has marked me the most on a human level and I continue to have an excellent relationship with him. To Bjarne I only have words of thanks. He is one of those people who when they come to a team change their mentality and are respected by all runners thanks also to the respect he shows to cyclists and to this sport. He has earned the admiration and recognition of the whole world for his great work in cycling

- How is cycling today different from the days when you dominated the Tour?

- Mainly the difference is that the pattern of the cyclists and their teams is similar. Preparation and preseason matches are becoming more and more similar whereas before you could do things on your own and that made the difference against your rivals. In the race you notice a great tension and a total control of power. The speed for example in the Dauphiné was very high and that is becoming more and more important. The economic part is also more important since the teams, by being in direct contact with the companies and sponsors, feel the pressure to obtain sporting and economic results.

- What is your favorite memory of the Tour?

- I would say the victory at Plateau de Beille. I remember it fondly because without a doubt it was one of the moments in which my professional career began to take off, so yes, it is one of my favorite memories if not the most of the Tour de France.

- What makes the Tour de France so special?

- Without a doubt it is a race without equal. 80% of the profitability of a team that fights for the Grand Tours comes from a victory in the Tour de France. The rest of the races are also important, such as the Giro d'Italia or La Vuelta, but the status and what the Tour de France entails is well above the rest of the races.

- What impact can the current pandemic context have on a sport such as cycling?

- The teams within cycling I think they will be able to solve it well. But regardless of the pandemic, we see that every year there are teams that do not continue or undergo a different metamorphosis. It will have affected other fields such as the salaries of cyclists and staff, but the teams are structured in a way that if they fight for the big races, this type of setback such as the pandemic does not make them change course.

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