Alberto Contador is taking a seven day seminar in Italy organized by Team Sky. Sort of a continuing education thing.
The official title for the seminar is Tirreno-Adriatico but you might also call it Beaten Black and Blue. The Spanish star is getting some harsh but hopefully enlightening lessons on how Team Sky bludgeons the competition to death. What used to be marginal gains are not massive beatings.
Contador has been put in the odd and unexpected position of trying to figure out if there’s a way to win the Tour de France against a talented climber named Chris Froome who is supported by a dominant team of assassins.
“Whatever the final result, this race has been really useful for me because I’d only ever seen how Sky work on television, never in person,” said Contador. The shorter version is “Holy shit, I’m out-numbered and in big trouble.”
El Pistolero has been forced to scrap for bonus seconds on intermediate sprints just to keep within shouting distance of Froome. This from the man who used to destroy his rivals with nasty accelerations up the steepest mountains.
Contador is a quick study and has shown in the past — like the 2012 Vuelta a Espana — that he knows how to adjust his tactics and strategy. Whether he can out-think the entire Sky team is another question.
“I’d never seen it from on the bike and seen the numbers on the SRM. I think in some ways this will help me to plan the tactics for the Tour.”
No doubt Contador is in deep conversation with new teammate Michael Rogers — who spent last July pulling Froome and Wiggins up the mountains and onto the first two steps of the podium in Paris. How do you crack nine guys in black and blue lycra?
Alberto lost 22 seconds on the stage up to Prati di Tivo and he was at a loss as to what happened or how to improve the situation. “I’d hoped to perhaps impose the race in a different way but yesterday was not my best day,” said Contador.
The educational seminar will certainly provide additional motivation and some long brainstorming sessions with team boss Bjarne Riis about how to deal with Froome in France. For now, Contador is riding hard and taking plenty of notes.
Come July we’ll see if the painful lessons of Tirreno Adriatico will alter his game-plan.