Alberto Contador takes Vuelta al Pais Vasco GC victory after ITT stage win

Tinkoff leader Alberto Contador took the GC win at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco with an exceptional performance in the final day’s time trial that saw him take both the stage win and the overall GC.

At the end of stage 6, Contador won the TT with a time of 29:13 – five seconds ahead of second place – and winning the race overall with a time of 22:44:43 – twelve seconds ahead of the next placed rider. The País Vasco becomes the first race Alberto Contador has won four times in his professional career, and with this victory he equals the record of wins at the famous Spanish race.

The final stage of the 2016 Vuelta al Pais Vasco may have been a time trial, but while there were some aero helmets, there were few time trial bikes to be seen on the course today. The 16.5km route, starting and finishing in Eibar was brutally steep in places and a technical descent and final kilometre meant riders had to have full control over their bikes on their way to the finish.

Going into the final day, Contador was second in the GC, six seconds behind the leader. After a hard week’s riding, where he showed confidence in attacking his rivals on some of the Vuelta’s steepest climbs, it was all going to come down to a race against the clock. After the week’s riding, Sport Director, Sean Yates, was clear of Contador’s challenge. “It’s been a long week, with the time trial looming at the end, and as we predicted it was always going to be the deciding stage of the race. Before this you have to bide your time, not lose time and take time where you can – this is exactly what Alberto and the team did here and it all came together today.”

On the day, weather conditions were wet, meaning there was potential for wheels to slip on the climbs with the riders out of the saddle, while on the descents, standing water and wet road markings made the conditions even more treacherous. Riders had the option of being cautious and potentially losing time, or pushing their bikes and their bike-handling skills to the limit and risk crashing. Alberto Contador was smooth and in control, although pushing hard, throughout the stage, summing up his ride from the finish. “I rode cautiously and tried to avoid taking unnecessary risks and at some point I was close to losing the stage win. However, that was secondary and in the end, I also got that. I now have to rest and recover after an intense start to the season.”

Yates continued, discussing the Tinkoff leader’s ride over the tough stage. “Alberto laid out his effort well today, he went really quick up the climb and had a good cushion there over the next riders over the summit going into the downhill – not only for the GC but for the stage too. Then when we saw Quintana was coming back he had to really go for it as we wanted the stage win along with the GC.”

Yates had nothing but praise for Alberto and the team. “He’s in great shape and deserves this win after his second places in Algarve, Paris-Nice and Catalunya. We had a few injuries and illness coming into the race and lost three guys along the way but the team stayed solid. Things played into our favour this race, and never taking the leaders jersey worked for us, as we didn’t have to ride and defend. And now the stage win is the icing on the cake.”

While Contador had announced earlier in the season that 2016 would be his final year as a professional cyclist, this victory may well have delayed that decision. “Recently, I have been pondering and thinking about my future with my entourage and most probably I will continue riding. I’m sure this isn’t the last time I come here. To be honest, I don’t like finishing second. After two second places in Paris-Nice and Catalanuya, this is a nice victory. However, I’m aware that the level of the peloton is always very high and there are strong rivals. However, it’s good to finish this part of the season and go to a much-need rest with a victory.”

Tour of the Basque Country 2016 – stage 6 results (ITT Eibar):

1 Alberto Contador (Tinkoff)

+29’13”

2 Nairo Quintana (Movistar)

+05”

3 Sergio Henao (Sky)

+18”

4 Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge)

+53”

5 Samuel Sanchez (BMC)

+01’04”

6 Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)

+01’09”

7 Rui Costa (Lampre – Merida)

+01’16”

8 Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha)

,,

9 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana)

+01’21”

10 Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA)

+01’26”

 

Final general classification:

1 Alberto Contador (Tinkoff)

22:44:43

2 Sergio Henao (Sky)

+12”

3 Nairo Quintana (Movistar)

+37”

4 Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)

+01’13”

5 Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha)

+01’22”

6 Samuel Sanchez (BMC)

+01’29”

7 Rui Costa (Lampre – Merida)

+02’19”

8 Simon Spilak (Katusha)

+02’47”

9 Lawson Craddock (Cannondale)

+02’52”

10 Wilco Kelderman (LottoNl-Jumbo)

+03’14”

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