Spain's three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador will have a lot on his mind when he begins his challenge on Monday to be crowned champion of the Tour of Catalonia which is celebrating
The 28-year-old has been in good form this season finishing fourth in the Tour of the Algarve and winning the Tour of Murcia. However, his mental strength as well as his physical strength will be tested as aside from competing against a strong field he will also learn whether the International Cycling Union intends to appeal the decision by his national federation to exonerate him over a positive doping test.
Contador, though, was more focussed in the riders that will be competing for the title. "The riders who are here are some of my main rivals for the Tour de France," said the Saxo Bank rider. "There will be Cadel Evans (the crack Australian recent winner of the Tirreno-Adriatico), Ivan Basso (two-time Tour of Italy winner), Dennis Menchov (Russia's two-time Tour of Spain champion), Michele Scarponi (fourth in last
year's Tour of Italy) and others I forget," he said. "They will be very difficult adversaries. They have begun the season in very good form and that is going to be clear in this race."
Contador, whose positive test came at last year's Tour de France where he claims it emanated from a piece of contaminated meat he ate, pinpointed Wednesday's mountainous third stage as the pivotal one. "The third stage will be the key day, with the finish in Andorra, but the other days will be complicated as well," he said.
Contador's first major objective this year is the Tour of Italy, which runs from May 7 to 29.