LEON, Spain (VN) — Forget Andy Schleck. The man on the rise these days is Chris Froome.
With Schleck nursing an injury that’s keeping him out of the Vuelta a España, it’s the ascending Froome (Sky), hot off second overall at the Tour de France, that is the man who could be king. And the showdown between Froome and Alberto Contador — the man who wants to be king again — at the Vuelta could make the Spanish tour the most exciting grand tour of the season.
Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), back from his controversial clenbuterol ban, says he’s “motivated” to square off against the all-around skills of Froome when the Vuelta opens on Saturday.
“(Froome) was the strongest man at the Tour de France,” Contador said during a press conference Monday in Madrid. “His presence in the Vuelta motivates me and will give the race more impact, even though that means I will have to work even harder.”
Contador is racing the Vuelta for the first time since he won it in 2008 and desperately wants to win in his first major race since he was slapped with a back-dated two-year racing ban that saw him stripped of his 2010 Tour win plus his 2011 Giro d’Italia title and all other subsequent results through February.
Rather than making the Vuelta a three-week coronation parade for Contador on supportive home roads, the presence of Froome creates the tantalizing prospect of seeing the first major showdown between the emerging Sky star and Contador on equal footing. Both will come motivated to win and will line up Saturday in Pamplona with teams fully backing their GC aspirations.
Contador — speaking to the media during a press conference for a new fundraiser via his Alberto Contador Foundation — recognized Froome as the man to beat over the next three weeks.
“It’s not just Froome, there are others who know how to win a Vuelta,” he said, referring to the likes of Alejandro Valverde and Denis Menchov, “but the truth is, his performance at the Tour was
To read the whole story, visit here: http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/08/news/contador-froome-vuelta-showdown-could-be-the-battle-of-the-season_234504