Alberto Contador put in a solid display of climbing on the first mountain finish of the Vuelta a España, just one day after a heavy fall put his whole race in jeopardy.
At the end of the 14km final climb to the line, after a largely flat stage, Contador was only bested by Nairo Quintana of Movistar to the line. Ahead, the day’s early break took the stage, but the Tinkoff leader moved himself up to seventh overall with his performance, finishing 13th on the day, second from the GC favourites.
“There is no doubt today’s result is important for my morale. It is also important for the morale of the staff and my teammates that work their fingers to the bone for me. After yesterday’s crash thousands of thoughts were in my head but I didn’t want to think I would again go back home, even if it was a possibility.”, said Contador after the stage.
“We managed to save the day today and my only thought was to make it alive to the finish. We lost time to Nairo Quintana and this is a problem because he’s one of my direct adversaries. But looking at the positive, we gained a few seconds on other riders. Now the most important is to recover as much as possible, thinking about tomorrow’s stage, which could even be harder for me than today. Quite often, the second day after a crash is the worst one.”
“It hurt during the stage today but it hurts even more when I get off the bike. When you ride there isn’t as much tension on the calf as when you walk. The sensations I have aren’t the best but I remain optimistic. Riding the final kilometers of the race, cheered by the spectators who were urging me not to give up was extraordinary. My motto is ‘querer es poder’, where there is a will there is a way. We will take the rest of the Vuelta day-by-day and see what we can achieve.”
Tnkoff Sport Director Steven de Jongh said after the stage: “I’m proud of what the team and Alberto, in particular, achieved today. He had a very hard crash and we were all worried but he fought hard all day, he rode well on the climb and had a very strong finish, which was really important. This result is good for team morale and promising for the upcoming stages. He showed his fighting spirit and that it is important to keep riding and never give up.”
“It was a very straightforward day and everything played out the way we had planned. The squad worked hard to place Alberto in a good position and he took over from there. In such a hot day, hydration was important and the riders were coming back for water bottles. Everybody did their job perfectly today.”
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