El Pistolero fires again
Alberto Contador arrived a Tirreno-Adriatico needing a victory. He ended with three: two stages and the overall. This is what we have come to expect from the Spaniard and what was so sorely lacking last season.
Confidence is an enigma, one that has played a part in the fluctuating fortunes of Wiggins, but Contador, always on the attack, seemed strangely lacking in self-belief in 2013. The harder he tried, the less he achieved. Watching Froome, Quintana, and Rodriguez ride away from him towards the summit of the Semnoz on the penultimate stage of last year’s Tour de France, and knowing that a podium finish in Paris the following day had disappeared, must have been hard to take.
Great champions bounce back, however, and Contador, despite a chequered past, has shown enough over the years to prove himself a great champion. Watching him in Italy has been like watching a rider reborn. The process may have borne early fruit in February with a stage win at the Volta ao Algarve, but reached fruition in the Race of the Two Seas. Victory on the mountainous fourth stage from Indicatore to Cittareale came at the expense of Porte, Quintana and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), and a second victory the following day was achieved alone.
It is in the job description of a Grand Tour winner that he must time trial well and Contador, once champion of Spain against the clock, did enough on stage seven to seal a victory that many will perceive as a comeback. By winning Tirreno-Adriatico he has set out his stall early as a legitimate contender for this year’s Tour. Would things have been different had Froome, dominant in Oman, been present? We can’t know. We can look forward to their first encounter of 2014.