Alberto Contador said on Saturday he is looking to test himself against his Tour de France rivals during the week-long Criterium de Dauphine, which starts on Sunday.
Four weeks from the start of the Tour, which Contador has won twice previously, the Spaniard will have the chance to test his legs against the likes of Chris Froome, Fabio Aru and French duo Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet.
“My primary objective is to finish (the Dauphine) in good physical condition with respect to the Tour — to be ready,” said Contador, 33, who has never won this race.
“Several hard stages will allow me to test myself against my rivals. I’m not thinking about the overall victory but, obviously, if the chance is there…
“The best thing to do is see how things go.”
After the Dauphine, Contador will ride the Spanish championships and the Tour before then heading to Rio for the Olympics.
But it is July’s Grande Boucle which most occupies his thoughts, although he expects no surprises there.
“There will be many challengers. But if I must pick two, I would say Froome, because he knows what to do to win the Tour, and (Nairo) Quintana, who is very strong in the third week.”
Froome — the Tour winner in 2013 and last year, at both of which Quintana finished second — and Contador shared a hotel during altitude training in Tenerife recently.
“We must have bumped into each other twice in two weeks. We’re focussed on training, we don’t spend time together,” added Contador, who hasn’t ridden for two months since he won the Tour of the Basque Country for the fourth time.
The Dauphine begins with an uphill time-trial on Sunday at a shade under 4km.
“It’s a good route to test yourself but it’s the first day of a (stage) race, you never know how the body’s going to respond,” added Contador. – Agence France-Presse