My name is Elin - A pro cycling lover's reflections

Contador not sure he will race Tour de France

Category: Cycling

Alberto Contador continues to say that he may ride the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a España instead of the Tour de France in 2013. But most likely only if Saxo-Tinkoff team fails to gain WorldTour status and an automatic invitation to the Tour.

He would like to ride the Tour de France next year. However, without an automatic invitation, Saxo-Tinkoff team will have to wait quite a long time to find out if it has been given a wildcard. Contador admitted that this may make him choose other races instead.

“We must see all the possibilities and at the moment we are waiting to see if the team will be in the WorldTour or not, because that’s a big difference,” Contador said at a press conference organised by a watch sponsor.

“My statements have not been at all a way to pressure the Tour, what I said is that we analyze all the possibilities."

"I would like to be there, of course. Last year I couldn’t go and the year before I wasn’t at my best, but this isn’t to put pressure on the Tour. Anybody who knows how preparation works also knows that the programme is important – not just yours, but that of your teammates. You need to know in time so as to be able to give them guarantees. You need a lot of time if you’re going to fight for victory, especially at the Tour.”

He says he needs at least eight weeks to prepare for the French race.

“If you start preparing thoroughly for the Giro and then don’t go there, everything changes, so it is important to know with enough time,” he said.

Contador will likely start his season at Tour de San Luis. But he hasn't really decided what else races to start in. He's thinking of only riding one grand tour, “because there are other riders on the team who can at least finish on the podium in the others.”

Can Sutton defend NSW Grand Prix title?

Category: Cycling

Chris SuttonDefending NSW Grand Prix champion Chris Sutton (Sky) thinks it will be hard to claim a third title in the race. NSW Grand Prix gets underway next Saturday, at December 8 at Cronulla. The next day, the event continues at Wollongong.

Last year, Sutton defeated Michael Matthews (Rabobank), Caleb Ewan (NSWIS), and Ben Kersten (Team Jayco-2XU) to take his second win in the race. And of course this year, Sutton is really the man to beat. And of course, someone will try to take the victory away from him.

Over 80 men are scheduled to be on the startline. And there will riders from Orica-GreenEdge, Budget Forklifts and Drapac, for example.

"This is going to be extremely tough to defend the title - 80 cyclists - the powerful Orica - GreenEdge team keen to win and even dual National Criterium Champion and winner of the Cronulla Grand Prix Bernie Sulzberger returning this year in sensational form," Sutton said.

Gilbert to start season at Tour Down Under

Category: Cycling

Philippe Gilbert will be the leader of BMC Racing Team line-up at the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under in January. He earlier considered starting the season at the Tour de San Luis or Qatar, but the Australian WorldTour event will be good for him.

He hasn't started the Tour Down Under since 2008 when he was racing for Française des Jeux. That year he won the King of the Mountains classification. Four years earlier, he won a stage,plus won the Young Rider classification and finished fourth overall.

"My winter training and preparation so far has been perfect," Gilbert said. "I saw the parcours on the Internet and it looks good for me. So I will go there with some ambition and we also bring a great team. But for the first race, it's hard to know how you will really feel."

Gilbert will be joined by Alessandro Ballan, Martin Kohler, Klaas Lodewyck, Amaël Moinard, Steve Morabito and Danilo Wyss in the Australian race.

Fabio Baldato will help the riders as much as possible in the Australian race. He says he would like to start the season in the best way possible. A good start can hopefully give confidence for the rest of the season.

"This will be an exciting race for us, with two strong riders like Philippe and Alessandro [Ballan] and a great team around them. I know from racing in the Tour Down Under myself as a rider in 2008 about Willunga Hill and the challenges it presents," he said.

"It's important to get off to a good start in the WorldTour races, so of course we'll want to achieve some good results in Australia. The riders will have a training camp together next month and then it will be important for them not to take too much of a holiday before we resume again in January."