Following on from some claims that Alberto Contador was seen training on climbs near Lugano at the end of July, just two weeks after he fractured his tibia in the Tour de France, Tinkoff Saxo manager Bjarne Riis said Friday that there is still a chance that the rider could compete in the Vuelta a España.
“He is, after all, not just at home on the couch. He is beginning to cycle a little,” said Riis, speaking to TV2 Sport. “We must still wait and see whether it brings him to the Vuelta.”
Contador suffered a fractured tibia when he hit the deck between the first category climbs of the Petit Ballon and the Col du Platzerwasel on the Tour’s tenth stage. On July 23 he said via Twitter that his recovery wasn’t going well. “Bad day, the wound healing gets complicated, I’ve no date to take the bike. Goodbye to the Vuelta.”
Riis sought to downplay this, telling media it was still too soon to say that Contador wouldn’t do the Spanish Grand Tour.
However Contador’s spokesman Jacinto Vidarte subsequently said that the rider had no interest in riding for riding’s sake. “The injury is not really good,” he told CyclingTips at the Tour de France. “The most important [factor] is that he doesn’t know how much time he will need to recover properly and, especially, to start riding the bike again. He has no time to take the start in a good condition, to fight for the victory.
“He doesn’t want to be at the Vuelta just to be there.”
Gran Fondo New York CEO Ulrich Fluhme told CyclingTips Thursday that he saw the rider training on climbs near Lugano on July 28 and 30. Requests for a reaction from the team, from Specialized and from Contador’s spokesman on this were all unanswered.
Riis’ response to TV2 Sport shows that Tinkoff Saxo haven’t given up hope. “If the right things happen over the next two weeks it may well be possible. But if we had to put him on a bike today with a race number on, it would be a no vote.”
The Vuelta a España begins with a team time trial in Jerez de la Frontera on August 23.