Alberto Contador has this funny feeling in the Vuelta a Espana. He’s not used to the feeling, it frustrates and irritates and even surprises him. Trying to dislodge race leader Purito Rodriguez (Katusha) has been impossible.
Contador has that Andy Schleck feeling — inability to ride Spaniard off wheel. In Andy’s case, Contador was the problem but now El Pistolero finds he just can’t shake the little guy who finished second in the year’s Giro d’Italia and who is well on his way to winning his first grand tour.
Yesterday Contador put his Saxo Bank-Tinkoff boys to work in the hope of crushing Rodriguez. Didn’t work. Then Contador tried to do the job himself, launching one of his signature accelerations in the final 2k up the Puerto de Ancares.
He did drop Rodriquez but that was only a temporary success as the the man in red worked his way back up and then smacked Contador with his own attack with 500 meters left. Stage win and 12 second time bonus and frustrated Contador.
Today in stage 15, Contador wasn’t feeling great so he saved all his attacks for the final hors categorie climb, the Lagos de Covadonga. He hit Rodriquez five times with zero effect. Once again Purito weathered the storm and they finished together on the same time.
“I didn’t feel good this morning so I told the team we’d switch tactics, and rather than try and control the race throughout, we’d play it all on one card at the end,” said Contador. The man is running out of cards and he’s getting that Schleck vibe — no matter how hard I try, I can’t get rid of this guy.
Runner-up in his first grand tour post doping suspension is a terrific result for anyone except Alberto Contador. He says he might be missing that last little gear, that burst that hasn’t come back since the steak con clenbuterol.
There’s no reason to give up on Contador just yet in this Vuelta. However, Rodriguez grows more confident with every climb and Alberto is looking like Andy Schleck with a better tan.