Alberto Contador: “I was aware I was making a dangerous gamble”

On one of the shortest stages of the Vuelta a España at just 118km, the 15th day saw a large shake up on GC as Tinkoff and Alberto Contador set the race alight from the early stages. Eventually racing only to sixth over the finish line atop the final ascent of Formigal, Contador gained time of many of his GC rivals to close the gap to the podium to only five seconds, and climb from sixth to fourth overall.

“I’m happy with the stage today. When I crossed the finish line yesterday, I was gutted because the form of my legs didn’t correspond to the result. I had a very strange sensation after the stage and I wanted to put it behind me and focus on today.

“I wasn’t extremely optimistic because the climbs weren’t very hard. Yesterday evening, I was reading the race book, looking at the gradients of the climbs in order to see what we could do. I knew it it would be complicated, so I decided to start at full pace. I was aware I was making a dangerous gamble because I knew that if they were able to catch me in the finale they would be able to drop me from the group of favorites. It was a gamble and I think it led to a great result. Sometimes you don’t win, like today. The final kilometers were tough.

“However, I think we had a beautiful showing today and the spectators enjoyed it, regardless of the result of the stage or the GC. I’m happy with what we achieved, it was a better day than yesterday. I think I had to pull hard because if I hadn’t done it the breakaway would have slowed down. Maybe in the first hour I was generous but I think I did the right thing.

“Tomorrow will be less demanding than today and yesterday but, again, every day is a different story. I have to be realistic about the rest of the Vuelta. This year victory in Paris-Nice and Catalunya slipped by for a handful of seconds. I had to abandon the Tour despite the fact I had started in optimal form and condition. I will give my best in the rest of the Vuelta now. It isn’t over yet!”