Alberto Contador has set his sights on a third Tour de France title in 2014.
Contador previously won the Tour in 2007 and 2009 – and was stripped of a third victory in 2010 after failing a doping test for clenbuterol – but could only finish fourth in 2013, nearly six-and-a-half minutes behind champion Chris Froome.
But, speaking at Tinkoff-Saxo’s 2014 launch on Gran Canaria, where the team unveiled a new kit, Contador is targeting a return to yellow and has also hinted at a Grand Tour double, with the Vuelta a Espana also firmly on the 31-year-old’s agenda.
“My primary goal will be the Tour de France,” said Contador. “I’ll then look to race the Vuelta in August.
“I feel good. The head and the body are working well. As a team we’re heading in a good direction and if we keep on working hard then we’ll see what happens
“The atmosphere is very good. We have a very good feeling. We’re a close group and everyone’s clear what the main objectives are.”
Contador will start his season with the Volta ao Algarve in February and will then race Tirreno-Adriatico, followed by the Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta al Pais Vasco. The Spaniard will then take a break from the peloton before returning for the Criterium du Dauphiné in June, followed by the Tour and the Vuelta.
And directeur sportif Bjarne Riis, who in December sold the team to Oleg Tinkoff, believes Contador is capable of returning to his best in 2014.
“He looks very strong – certainly stronger than 12 months ago,” said Riis. “We have a powerful team around him and we’re very hopeful of a memorable year.”
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider will have a wealth of talent at his disposal at the Tour de France, with Roman Kreuziger and Nicolas Roche both likely to ride in support of the five-time Grand Tour winner.
And Kreuziger and Roche also have personal ambitions of their own, with the duo targeting the Ardennes Classics and Giro d’Italia respectively.
“I’m aiming to show strongly again in the Classics,” said Kreuziger, who won the Amstel Gold Race in 2013 and also finished fifth behind Contador at the Tour, “[I also want to] do well at the Tour of Switzerland. I’ll then support Alberto at the Tour and hopefully we can go better than last year.”
Irishman Roche, meanwhile, will ride a Grand Tour on home soil, with the opening three days of the Giro set to take place in Belfast and Dublin.
“It’s a new challenge for me because I’ve never gone for form so early in the year,” said the 29-year-old. “The last five or six years I’ve either gone for the Tour or the Vuelta, so I’ve always taken an easier or less-in-form beginning to the year. That’s quite exciting.
“Ireland’s experienced a great boom over the last four or five years and the sport’s attracting new riders all the time.
“I’m sure I’ll receive a great atmosphere at Belfast, all the way down to Dublin. Every year the number of Irish beside the road at the Tour de France is incredible and on the increase so I’m really looking forward to being there.”