One last Grand Tour for Contador and Tinkoff at Vuelta

Alberto Contador and his Tinkoff team-mates will be gunning for victory as they enjoy a farewell ride together at the Vuelta a Espana.

Owner Oleg Tinkov will disband the team at the end of the year, having vowed to only return to cycling once Chris Froome retires from the sport.

Froome was dominant at the Tour de France as he secured his third title in the race, but the Team Sky leader too comes into the Vuelta with a sense of retribution to take after falling short in his bid for Olympic gold at Rio 2016 and failing to finish last year's race due to sustaining a broken foot.

Contador crashed out of this year's Tour and is well-rested after also missing the Olympics.

Last year's winner Fabio Aru will not return to defend his title, but the likes of Nairo Quintana, Esteban Chaves and Samuel Sanchez are expected to keep Froome and Contador - overwhelming favourites for victory - honest.


Triple Vuelta winner Contador has firmly set his sights on another title, having switched focus from the Tour, which was initially a top 2016 priority.

He took victory at the Vuelta a Burgos in preparation, but is still keen to dampen expectations.

"It's not a matter of revenge," he said. "The Vuelta is another race that starts from scratch and I just hope to start on a better footing than the Tour.

"Tour was my number one goal of the year and it started on the wrong foot and finished by retiring. That really comes often back to my head and is hard to beat psychologically."

Front-running rival Quintana believes victory is Contador's to give away, however.

"The terrain in this year's race really suits Alberto, it's got good time trials for him," the Colombian said.

"In a way, he's rested up after the Tour, too and he'll be extremely motivated. For me, he's the big favourite."


Much like Contador, Froome is also keen to take pressure away from himself.

Although a legacy-defining Tour hat-trick is in the bag, a pair of runner-up finishes in this race leave the Briton wanting more.

"It's no secret my condition is not the same as it was in the Tour de France," said Froome, who won bronze in Rio.

"I have the view of trying to get that good condition back by the second half of the Vuelta then let's see how it goes.

"I've twice finished second, and I still haven't won it, and in that sense I've definitely got unfinished business here."


We could very well have an idea of who is going to win the event fairly early on, with riders given little opportunity to feel their way into the tour.

Logistically, the race will be kind to the teams with the vast majority of the stages held in the northern regions of Spain.

And the consequent extra rest will come in handy for the riders, who will have to negotiate the Mirador de Ezaro on just the third day of racing. At times reaching almost 30 per cent gradient, the punishing climb forced some riders to dismount and walk in 2013.

A total of 10 summit finishes is one more than riders had to endure last year, with stage 13 featuring no fewer than four climbs in the Pyrenees - including a ride up Pierre de Saint-Martin, which Froome attacked to thrilling effect on his way to victory in last year's Tour de France.

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