Eurosport analyst Alberto Contador (39) currently sees the Vuelta as a battle between Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic. “Right now it’s fifty-fifty. But Roglic has the mental advantage,” said the Spanish ex-Tour winner.
Alberto Contador knows what he is talking about on top of Sierra de la Pandera. In the 2017 Vuelta – his last race as a professional rider – he rode up the col himself, even then in the fourteenth stage. Contador lost no time on his fellow favorites at the time, Evenepoel did on Saturday.
“Remco clearly had a bad day today,” said three-time Vuelta winner Contador. “That was the big question everyone had in their heads beforehand: can he do it in a three-week race? We don’t know the answer yet, but the Vuelta is completely open from now on.’
For Contador it is clear: on the climb to Sierra Nevada all masks fall off: ‘The Vuelta is still between Evenepoel and Roglic and on Sunday we will know who will win the Vuelta. The climb is so long and also goes to 2500 meters. It’s the perfect climb to overtake an opponent in crisis.’
Contador has a very precise scenario in mind: “It’s going to be very tough in the first hour. There will be a lot of struggle to join in the breakout. For the stage win, but many classification teams will also want to send men ahead. And then in the last hour you get a full battle on the final climb again.’
On that climb to Sierra Nevada, the first four kilometers are the steepest, with strips at more than thirteen percent. “If you want to win or take time, you have to attack there already,” said Contador. “That applies to Roglic, but also, for example, to Miguel Angel Lopez, who will still want to drive to the podium.”
Roglic or Evenepoel, who does Contador bet his money on? ‘At the moment it is fifty-fifty’, he indicates. ‘But Evenepoel has not only lost time. Roglic now also has the mental advantage. He had to stay off the bike for two weeks after the Tour, but I think he will only get better and better.”