Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) admits the 2015 Tour de France is harder than this year’s but the two-time former champion is relishing the race.
Vuelta a Espana champion Contador will ride on the back of the Giro d’Italia, with El Pistolero hoping to ride all three Grand Tours alongside his leading rivals next year.
And though fully aware of the need to be in peak condition from the off at next year’s race, after the route was announced this morning, Contador is confident of challenging for the maillot jaune.
He said: “I like this Tour, it’s harder than what the last years have been and requires me to recover well from the Giro d’Italia. But I will prepare myself thoroughly.
“The first stages are a bit different from the last few years. You have to be in good shape from the very first stage.
“The key to this first part will be to avoid losing time, as it will be in the mountains, where this particularly mountainous and demanding Tour will be decided.”
Chief rival Chris Froome (Team Sky) is unsure whether he will ride the Tour, with only a very short time trial and more emphasis on the mountains.
But Contador has studied the route in detail and believes the winning rider will not just be the one who excels in the mountains, but the rider with the strongest team and best recovery too.
“It begins with a short time trial, but there will be time differences,” he said.
“In the 2015 edition, the recovery from all that effort will be very important, especially if you look at the last week in the Alps.
“It will be very complicated in case you have to defend the lead, although the last week gives many tactical possibilities in case you have to attack.
“In general, it’s a Tour where you have to arrive in good shape and stay fresh and well recovered until the very end.”
Team manager Bjarne Riis echoed his team leader’s thoughts, saying: “I like this parcours and I think it is going to be a spectacular race.”
“It requires us to have a strong team and the absence of a long time trial is also good for us. I don’t think the Tour has to always stay the same. In the same way that not every year there are cobblestones or a time trial.
“The Pyrenees and the Alps will be very hard and that will make a spectacular race: we need to have a spectacular race and I think that’s a good change.”