Alberto Contador and ITT - World class, good or average?

Jul 3, 2009
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Yesterday I stated in the thread on yesterday’s Tour-stage that AC was not a world-class, but only an slightly-above average ITT-rider on longer distances (http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showthread.php?p=591543#post591543). Libertine Seguros jumped on me for that and presented an interesting and detailled list with some AC-results in that discipline to prove me wrong (http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showthread.php?p=591590#post591543). Another member suggested that it would be useless to discuss ACs qualities with me based on data, because I would irrationally believe in my point.
It is true that I strongly dislike AC (I don’t hate him, though). But I always respected him to be a great climber and to be strong in shorter time trials. Therefore, I checked Libertine’s list, addes some data and revised my opinion in part:

ACs time trial results in GTs and long ITTs:

Early results (he certainly was young back then):

48th, stage 1 ITT, Tour de France 2005 (19 km): Lost 1:57 to David Zabriskie. Finished behind guys like Ronny Scholz, Padrnos etc.

48th, stage 20 ITT, Tour de France 2005 (55 km): Lost 6:12 min to Armstrong. Remember, Rasmussen only lost one rough minute more and he crashed several times.

15th, stage 9 Tour de Suisse 2006 (30 km): Lost 1:45 to Jan Ullrich on this difficult course and finished behind guys like Coldo Gil and Frank Schleck (!).

=> Not exactly results which would hint at the potential to win a GT-ITT. Decent, though.

15th, prologue Tour de France 2007 (7,9 km): lost 0:35 to Cancellara and 0:22 to Andreas Klöden (who is not a known prologue rider). 1 second faster than Cadel, though.

6th, stage 13 ITT, Tour de France 2007 (54km): Lost 2:18 to Alex Vinokourov and still over a minute on Cadel. Given his 2005-result, it is remarkable that he beat Rasmussen by a round 30 seconds. But AC was on full gas for sure in this one and was not in 2005.

5th, stage 20 ITT, Tour de France 2007 (55,5km): Lost 2:18 on Leipheimer – who had worked his **** off before to help AC in the mountains – and over a minute on Evans (AC almost lost his first Tour to him that day). Guys like Vino and Klöden were out oft he race, the competition in this ITT was rather weak in terms of GC-contenders.

=> Up to this point, it seemed very unlikely that this guy would ever get close to winning an ITT at the Tour. But anyway, my original verdict was too hard. He was not just an average ITT rider on longer distances back then. He could crack the Top15, but with significiant gaps tot he top ITT-contenders. He definately did not show any sign of being a world-class ITT-rider on 30km+-distances.

2nd, stage 10 ITT, Giro d'Italia 2008 (39,4km): First strong ITT-performance in GT. 8 seconds lost on Bruseghin. 12 ahead of Klöden. Based on the above-mentioned record, I was very surprised back then. But the competition in the Giro usually is weaker than at the Tour.

11th, stage 21 ITT, Giro d’Italia 2008 (28,5 km): Lost 0:39 on Marco Pinotti and finished behind well-known ITT-experts like Bennati, Voigt and Gusev. Big ITT-guns like Klöden not in the race anymore due to illness.

4th, stage 5 ITT, Vuelta a España 2008 (42,5km): Lost 0:49 on Leipheimer and finished behind Chavanel (!) and Quinziato. But he was better than e.g. Klöden. Decent result, but world class? I guess not.

4th, Olympic Games ITT (47,3km): Really a good showing; losing only 1:18 on Cancellara and not even ten seconds on third-placed Leipheimer. Among others, he beat Evans. Guy like Klöden not there, though. AC obviously coped well with the trip to China.

5th, stage 4 ITT, Dauphiné Libéré 2009 (42,4 km): Lost 0:44 to Bert Grabsch and finished behind Evans, Millar and Rabon. Decent again, but world class? Only a build up race, though. No strong ITT-competition in this race. The good ones were in Switzerland I guess…

2nd, prologue ITT, Tour de France 2009 (15,5 km): Only beaten by Cancellara. Strong showing but on a short distance which – as I never disputed – suits AC quite well.

But then:

1st, stage 18 ITT, Tour de France 2009 (40,5km): Never ever an ITT-victory in a GT seemed possible for this guy on a long distance in a world-class ITT-field based on his record. And he just did it. Cancellara was furious back then. I can’t help but understand him. But to remain objective: This victory stands out of ACs record. It is unique. And it is still unique today.

Back to normal:

6th, stage 3 ITT, Dauphiné 2010 (49,5km): Lost 1:36 to Brajkovic. Almost a minute to Menchov. Most GC-contenders in the race finished clearly in front of or not far behind him.

6th, prologue ITT, Tour de France 2010 (8,9 km): Lost 0:27 on Cancellara and placed behind Martin, Millar, Armstrong and Gerraint Thomas. Very well, though.

35th, stage 19, Tour de France 2010 (52 km): Lost 5:43 (!) to Cancellara and was beaten, e.g., by Danilo Hondo.
I have to admit that this race stands out as well: AC was not that bad in a long Tour-ITT since 2005.

3rd, stage 21, Giro d’Italia 2011 (26 km): Lost 0:36 to Millar. Rather short distance and therefore an ITT which suited AC. Did not give his all in the closing meters and the competition – like in the whole Giro – wasn’t that strong.

I stand my ground in one point: AC is not a world-class-ITT-rider on longer distances. He can get good results (so he is not an average ITT-rider either as I have stated before), but he lacks constance and winning potential. He tends (sic) to lose time on his rivals there (not much and not on A. Schleck, but hey). Guys like Indurain and Armstrong – the latter was not weaker than the mountains 1999-2005 than AC in the last few years – crushed the field in almost every GT-ITT they participated. Ullrich – weaker in the mountains – usually did as well, except for Armstrong. AC does not have this class in the ITT. His win from 2009 remains an unique result.

However, I will never state again that AC is a bad or only average ITT-rider on longer distances. This opinion is implausible. AC has a good ITT. Any place between 3rd and 35th is no surprise.

A bit of a long post, sorry. But I did want to get this straight.
 
For me very good but not world class, there's only 5-6 truly elite tt and AC isn't quite at that level. I think his 3rd week GT timetrial are very good but I put that down to his superb recovery. Of all the "GC" contenders I would only class Wiggans, Levi and an on form Menchovs as better or equal to him.
 
If no one but Cancellara and Martin are "World class" then you are correct. I don't see how historical comparisons are relevant. Today, he is in the top10 ITT'ers in the world, over virtually any course and distance. Whatever descriptive term you use to define that position doesn't change that.
 
What is top class if not consistently finishing in the top 10? The changing weather conditions are a big, big factor in the Pauillac ITT, nobody from the GC men finished up there in the mix, which is rare indeed. All the top 10 went early. Not really representative.

It's also unfair that you include prologues here but don't include his multitude of TT wins in races like Algarve, País Vasco, Castilla y León and other warmup events, yet jump on him for not beating the top names at the Dauphiné.

And to include stage 21 of the 2008 Giro, which is not only short but was a victory parade for him, since all he had to do was beat Riccò, who he put over a minute into, is unfair. It has long been considered that 40km is about Contador's threshold for ITTs - up to and around this level he is super-strong and always has been; but once we pass this he starts to hæmorrhage time. This is borne out here - he still manages to finish in the top 10 and put in very good placements, but the time he loses in those 55km ITTs in 2007 (when he was still young, to be fair) is much larger than that which he loses over 42-43km in the Vuelta, or 47km in the Olympics.

The Annecy TT is NOT an anomaly. That was an ITT of the perfect kind of length for him and it included a small climb which was enough that it allowed him to gain enough time over Cancellara to get the win.

As for "never ever an ITT-victory in a GT seemed possible for this guy on a long distance in a world-class ITT-field based on his record"? You might just want to revisit some of the discussions from before that time trial. Quite a lot of people were tipping him for the win. I was one of them.
 
May 20, 2010
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I think he is one of Spain's best time trialists. I think he is a great three week GT time trialists. But I do not think he is truly world class.
 
Ferminal said:
If no one but Cancellara and Martin are "World class" then you are correct. I don't see how historical comparisons are relevant. Today, he is in the top10 ITT'ers in the world, over virtually any course and distance. Whatever descriptive term you use to define that position doesn't change that.
I actually do think they are the only 2 worldclass , they are a bit of a step up on everyone else so that's how I see it but I guess it depends on how each person interprets it. I think Albie would be in the group just below that.
 
May 8, 2009
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You compare pears with apples:

Contador 62 kg
Armstrong 75 kg
Ullrich 72 kg
Indurain 78 Kg
Leipheimer 62 kg
Cancellara 82 kg
Evans 67 Kg
A. Schleck 68 kg

So yes, he is a world class TTer, since he must have a great engine and aero position to deliver performances almost equal and often better to riders who very often weight more.

Weights from wikipedia English version, maybe wrong but at least I did not pick different sources to prove a point.

I cannot avoid saying that, considering AS and AC biotypes and weight, AS is a real catastrophe in TT
 
Midnightfright said:
I actually do think they are the only 2 worldclass , they are a bit of a step up on everyone else so that's how I see it but I guess it depends on how each person interprets it. I think Albie would be in the group just below that.
I feel that "world class" should encompass more than just the very best, it should encompass those who are consistently able to compete at the top level. It's like saying that no sprinters are "world class" except Cavendish because he's clearly faster than them. Or saying Evans isn't "world class" because he seldom competes with Contador or Schleck in the mountains.

So my argument using my definition is; Contador is world class; Cancellara and Martin are just incredible.
 
Jul 16, 2010
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The final time trial in the Giro 2008 the weather changed for the worse for the GC favorites. Contador was minute(s) ahead of everyone who started after the weather changed. Without the change in weather he would have probably won that time trial.

As for the final time trial in this year's Giro. Millar and Rasmussen took it easy on every stage so they could win this time trial. Contador already had a hard Giro in his legs. Besides Millar was second at the world championships last year ;) And he beat Richie Porte who was fourth. That means Contador is somewhere around the top 5 of time trial specialists when in decent shape. And he has won more time trials than most of these time trial specialists anyway :rolleyes:

He even has a better time trial palmares than Tony Martin so far. Having won 14 time trials compared to Tony's 13. Contador has 2 GT time trials to his name compared to Tony's zero. Although obviously Tony will surpass him at some point in terms of time trial victories.
 
I think the question has to be narrowed to compare his ITT qualities not vis a vis specialist like Martin, Grabsche or Cancellara, but against his competition for the overall. And in that case, I think it is clear that he is world class when it cOmes to GT ITTs. At 62kg, he's never going to generate enough watts on the flats and descents to really compete with the real power men. He needs climbs to be competitive/offset his limitations on that terrain.
 
khardung la said:
You compare pears with apples:

Contador 62 kg
Armstrong 75 kg
Ullrich 72 kg
Indurain 78 Kg
Leipheimer 62 kg
Cancellara 82 kg
Evans 67 Kg
A. Schleck 68 kg

So yes, he is a world class TTer, since he must have a great engine and aero position to deliver performances almost equal and often better to riders who very often weight more.

Weights from wikipedia English version, maybe wrong but at least I did not pick different sources to prove a point.

I cannot avoid saying that, considering AS and AC biotypes and weight, AS is a real catastrophe in TT
Have u not heard AS had added an extra 40 watts in a 40k TT. At this rate I can see him limiting g losses in the mountains and trying to win the tour in the TT.
 
Jan 3, 2011
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World Class? generally no, but for the one time when he beat the gladiator.

Good? Yes definately and much better than Andy and Frank.

Also you should disregard the TTs where he has nothing to win (fx back in 2005). Its alot about motivation too. And sheer motivation also tells me that 1.30 will be enough for Andy if that is his lead the TT. Well it it would be enough if thats his gap on Evans but I reckon it would be enough to keep Alberto distanced. Alberto will need to take 40-50 secs in the mountains imo (and alot more on Cadel).
 
Evans' ITT is overrated. It hasn't been up to its 2007-era level for a while.

He's still pretty good, don't get me wrong, but the days of him taking a minute out of most of the other GC contenders are gone.

In the 2009 Vuelta he took a grand total of 0 out of Valverde and lost time to Sánchez before we got to the Toledo ITT where Valverde was able to just control and ride within himself to conserve the victory.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
Evans' ITT is overrated. It hasn't been up to its 2007-era level for a while.

He's still pretty good, don't get me wrong, but the days of him taking a minute out of most of the other GC contenders are gone.

In the 2009 Vuelta he took a grand total of 0 out of Valverde and lost time to Sánchez before we got to the Toledo ITT where Valverde was able to just control and ride within himself to conserve the victory.
Totally agree with u on Evans. I would expect numerous GC guys to match or better him Contador included.
 
Jul 22, 2009
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I agree too, he is not as good in long pancake-flat ITTs as people say he is. Don/t get me wrong, he is a climber who is capable of staying within 1½-2 minutes of the guy winning the stage (usually Cancellara), while the other climbers usually lose >3 minutes.

Now, if the ITT tilts up a bit, watch out!
 
Jul 16, 2010
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Se&#241 said:
I agree too, he is not as good in long pancake-flat ITTs as people say he is. Don/t get me wrong, he is a climber who is capable of staying within 1½-2 minutes of the guy winning the stage (usually Cancellara), while the other climbers usually lose >3 minutes.

Now, if the ITT tilts up a bit, watch out!
Yup, like this year's time trial. If he's still in good shape he can take more than a minute on Mr no chain.

I hope next year has at least 2 time trials. Such bias against Schleck, it's too obvious. Suck it up Prudhomme, Andy was born 300 meters from the French border, he's NOT french.
 

iZnoGouD

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Feb 18, 2011
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he is world class, he generates so much power and he is just 62kg, that's pretty amazing
 
Apr 1, 2009
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World class. Not on the same level as Canc, but then again, who is? Especially when you consider he gives away close to 20 kilos. As has been said before, put in a climb, and he can win it, especially towards the end of a 3-week race. If that's not world class, I don't know what is.
BTW, I agree on Evans. His TT not as good as it once was.
 
World Class.

The guy won the main time trial in the 2009 Tour and came 2nd in the other one. Hes won countless stage races on tts and even in this years Giro won a mountain one and came 3rd while doing a celebration lap of Milan.

On the other hand he came down in this years ttt which according to some is entirely down to ones itt ability so maybe he is not that good :rolleyes:
 
Depends on your definition of World Class I guess. Personally I only see those cyclists that are top 3 in any TT they enter no matter what as truly World Class (Cancellara and Martin) but Contador is definatly one of the top 6 or so time trialists in the world depending on his form, so whether he's World Class or just incredibly good is sort of a moot point in my opinion.
 

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