How good is Contador?

Mar 18, 2009
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He has won all three GTs, but how good is he really? The competition is now made up of riders who used to take fifth through tenth when Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso, Mancebo, Vino, etc. were at the top. After the top riders were wiped out by doping problems, the next tier came to the fore. None of those second tier riders were very impressive before, and none of them are that impressive today. Contador did not exactly smash everyone during his GT wins. So how good is he really?

How good will he be compared to Armstrong when Armstrong goes full jack in the TdF?
 
Apr 12, 2009
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BroDeal said:
He has won all three GTs, but how good is he really? The competition is now made up of riders who used to take fifth through tenth when Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso, Mancebo, Vino, etc. were at the top. After the top riders were wiped out by doping problems, the next tier came to the fore. None of those second tier riders were very impressive before, and none of them are that impressive today. Contador did not exactly smash everyone during his GT wins. So how good is he really?

How good will he be compared to Armstrong when Armstrong goes full jack in the TdF?
Well I guess we won't know until july, but from the body of work he's done over three years he's pretty damn good, his main rivals are evans, schlecks, menchov and his team. I thought his giro last year was very impressive, I mean sitting on a beach a couple days before going on to win a grand tour is unprecedented, and sure he wasn't classic contador, but he basically did what menchov did, and menchov was on top form, no other rider I've ever seen could do that. But it is hard to say that a rider has won every grand tour he's entered and then wonder how good he is, some people would call that idiotic.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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He's so good there's a good chance he might be over confident and let up and have someone else besides the Hog take it. Why? Well I could see him helping anyone else to keep Lance off the winners spot if he doesn't have it. This is where having Valverde at the Tour would help the drama rage on.
 
I won't exactly call A.Schleck, LL Sanchez, Gesink and Kreuziger for rookies, but the fact is that their limit is still unknown.

Granted, people like Menchov, Sastre and Evans has experienced defeat to several from the "old guard", but they all seem to have grown more cohones and knowledge how to win stage races (okay, Evans might lack a bit there...).

I'm quite sure Conta will beat the competition in a month, and he will surely prove he is as worthy as they come in a GT.
 
Apr 9, 2009
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Kazistuta said:
I'm quite sure Conta will beat the competition in a month, and he will surely prove he is as worthy as they come in a GT.
That's my take as well. I think he's quite clearly the best stage racer of the post Armstrong era right now. This coming Tour will either cement that legacy or open the debate to who is currently the best stage racer. Contenders for that mantle are Menchov, Kreuziger, A. Schleck. I do think AC is a cut above those folks, but we'll find out in a few weeks.
 
Mar 12, 2009
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BikeCentric said:
That's my take as well. I think he's quite clearly the best stage racer of the post Armstrong era right now. This coming Tour will either cement that legacy or open the debate to who is currently the best stage racer. Contenders for that mantle are Menchov, Kreuziger, A. Schleck. I do think AC is a cut above those folks, but we'll find out in a few weeks.
+1
and to add, Contador is very respected within the peloton, being down to earth kind of guy, letting his legs do the talking. No bullying, no whining, even when things didn't go as planned in PN (-09 bonk), he never blamed his weak team for that.
 
Apr 21, 2009
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an interesting tour, please

franciep10 said:
.... But it is hard to say that a rider has won every grand tour he's entered and then wonder how good he is, some people would call that idiotic.
I was going to say ludicrous....

I am more interested in seeing an interesting tour with a few people going for it, than in who the winner ends up being. I, for one, enjoyed the Giro this year. I wouldn't be shocked if Contador dominates, with help from his teammates, but hope it is more interesting than that. It would be great if Cadel Evans is a strong challenger, or anyone else for that matter. Last year's tour was pretty good, but I think might have been more interesting if Evans had a stronger team and wasn't so isolated on some of the climbs. I really do not want to see contention between the Astana boys, or an Astana funding fiasco as the main TDF headlines.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Rupert said:
I was going to say ludicrous....
I think you have to look at the competition, and the competition are all second stringers. You have to wonder about things when Leecheimer can nearly win a GT and Sastre can win the big one.
 
May 6, 2009
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I wouldn't say Luis Leon Sanchez is a Tour contender just yet, but I reckon he is good for a breakaway in the Pyrennes or Alps and get a win and be in the top 15.
 
Jun 15, 2009
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What if Armstrong takes the prologe? Can Contador be cool under the pressure? All it takes is one BAD day, like Contador had earlier this year, for Armstrong to gobble him up. It's Contador's worst fear. This may be the best Tour in a decade.
 
Apr 3, 2009
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No worries there, the prologue will be a prey for Cancellara. The way he demolished everyone in Switzerland last week, not even the old Armstrong would be a match for that.
 
Apr 21, 2009
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Second Stringers

BroDeal said:
I think you have to look at the competition, and the competition are all second stringers. You have to wonder about things when Leecheimer can nearly win a GT and Sastre can win the big one.
I hear you, but if you accept the premise that all the guys listed who used to win are either 1) gone, 2) no longer juiced (harder to do now?), or 3) older and less of a threat, Contador looks pretty good. I think that's probably pretty reasonable based on the list of guys you(?) mentioned... Seems to me like the second string has moved up a notch. Maybe the playing field is getting more level (I hope).
 
Apr 11, 2009
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Might be clarified further if/when he transfers to another team (i.e., Caisse d'Epargne).

Potential issue of the transferability of "medical programs". Always an issue with a sample of top guys, unfortunately. Who we don't know, but might know in part sooner than later with bio passport results....

We do know he's been winning at Astana with its pedigree. Also, his Paris-Nice TT raised some serious eyebrows, a la Heras's TT at his last Vuelta.

One thing invalidating this--IF a medical prog. is relevant here--is that these "docs" seem to operate on a freelance basis, not associated with formal team hierarchy--although maybe with those on the team with the connections to know.

But, still looking forward to seeing him, as an Astana member, attack Lance/Levi with Caisse d'Epargne support :p IF Astana or the former try some games with him this summer. Will beat last year's Tour :D

NB: Lance's dismissive attitude of Sastre--right or wrong--might support BroDeal's pt. about second-stringers. Alpe d'Huez debacle last year's surely was a reason making him think, "I can do this again". People rarely act for single motives.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Back to the original post:

BroDeal said:
He has won all three GTs, but how good is he really? The competition is now made up of riders who used to take fifth through tenth when Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso, Mancebo, Vino, etc. were at the top. After the top riders were wiped out by doping problems, the next tier came to the fore.
Let's remember the qualifier "After the top riders were wiped out by doping problems". Armstrong was the only one of these "old Guard" who didn't test positive. Vino, Ullrich, Mayo, Hamilton, Mancebo, Basso, Pantani, etc. the "next tier" may not be completely clean, but they do seem human!
 
Adding to what you just said, also keep in mind we're talking 3-8 years removed from those guys now. There is nothing to indicate that had Ullrich, Vino, Heras, Landis, etc. not tested positive and kept on riiding, that age or time would have caught up to them and Sastre, Schleck, Evans, etc. would be just as good as them today. It's all speculation.

The biggest name from the "back then" that gives me hesitation though is Basso. I know he doped and got caught, but I don't really think he doped more than anyone else, and had he not been caught there was every indication he was going to steamroll over everyone at the 2006 Tour, and may have kept on winning many more big races after that.

Presuming Al wins this Tour (and unless he cracks, crashes, gets really sick, or screws up, he should) I think the 2010 Tour between mostly he and Basso could really be a clash of the Titans. It's also going to be fun seeing how the Schlecks, Sammy Sanchez, Gesink, etc. all mature in Contador's shadow.
 
embankmentlb said:
What if Armstrong takes the prologe? Can Contador be cool under the pressure? All it takes is one BAD day, like Contador had earlier this year, for Armstrong to gobble him up. It's Contador's worst fear. This may be the best Tour in a decade.
Don't think so, as I don't think Lance is going to be good enough to win the Tour. I think age, the time off, etc. are still going to be too much. I don't see him having the ability to climb like he did in 2004. The issue though is that if Lance tops AC in the ITT, and after the TTT Astana (or whatever they're called) win, and this puts Lance in the Maillot Jaune, then it's going to be interesting to see how AC rides, and how the team defends the jersey and protects Lance.
 
Apr 9, 2009
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Another point is that this upcoming Tour is just huge for Contador - if he wins, he absolutely enters the pantheon of the all-time cycling greats. He'll have 2 Tours, 1 Vuelta, 1 Giro, and of course likely more to come. If he does not win, it is as I said before - a wide open question of who is this era's best stage racer. AC's got a lot of pressure on him and he seems to be handling it quite well, but again, all these questions will be answered in just a few weeks, likely on Mt. Ventoux.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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PCB Free said:
Let's remember the qualifier "After the top riders were wiped out by doping problems". Armstrong was the only one of these "old Guard" who didn't test positive. Vino, Ullrich, Mayo, Hamilton, Mancebo, Basso, Pantani, etc. the "next tier" may not be completely clean, but they do seem human!
Armstrong's 1999 samples certainly tested positive for EPO. Not official but there is undeniable proof that Armstrong doped. If we want to go by official tests then Ullrich never tested positive. Neither did Basso. Neither did Mancebo. Neither did Kloden. Neither did Pantani for that matter.

The point is: Does anyone really believe that Sastre is better than he was three or four years ago? Or Evans? Yet Contador has not proven himself to be that much better than them.

If Armstrong goes back to doing what he was doing before then even he if does not quite reach the level he used to be at, he still might be able to take Contador. Although, as someone mentioned, Paris-Nice gave an indication that Contador has kicked it up a notch this year.
 
Apr 1, 2009
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Parrot23 said:
Might be clarified further if/when he transfers to another team (i.e., Caisse d'Epargne).
That is an excellent point. He could be yet another ex-Armstrong team mate who tests positive after changing teams when no longer working with Dr. Ferrari.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Rupert said:
I hear you, but if you accept the premise that all the guys listed who used to win are either 1) gone, 2) no longer juiced (harder to do now?), or 3) older and less of a threat, Contador looks pretty good. I think that's probably pretty reasonable based on the list of guys you(?) mentioned... Seems to me like the second string has moved up a notch. Maybe the playing field is getting more level (I hope).

Couple things....


The top doped riders (Basso, Vinkourov, Lance, Ullrich, Mancebo, Sevilla who was best you rider in 2001, Botero, Gutierez;s, etc, etc) the list goes on and on to who were GONE! So yeah, Levi who was top 10 material pre- WADA/ corrupt uci vacuum cleaner were now the podium board...

All the top 50 riders blood dope with their frozen packed cells which are crypto preserved in a special storage solution.. HGH OR IGf-1, insulin and 02 carriers similar to acto are still used... The list goes on and on.

You'd not finish the Tour clean so no they are not that much less juiced but perhaps the days of jacking to 59% on epo are over. Just the "lesser" overall G.C. riders were left after Ullrich was taken down and DUMPED by T-mobile along with the other good riders like Honchar and Vinokourov. Mechov was left over and he did fairly well, heras was left over before being busted. Then we had these guys like Ricco coming up that could get their crits above 50% limit with blood doping for the first time since "chicken man" was brought down and Contador was banned from the Tour. All in all "levi" is way stronger now with the Astana/ Disco/ Postal doping program then he was with Robobank.... Especially being american and being lances teamate and getting some of the "tricks." They didnt give a sh$t about the Giro I dont think.

Lance will probably win the Tour due to Contador's inferior flat TT power (less total power output due to being much smaller.) However on long climbs he could overcome this and drop Lance, but Lance might just order him to slow down or be DUMPED the next season like Floyd'd blood refill in 2004. LOL!
 
Apr 1, 2009
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BikeCentric said:
That's my take as well. I think he's quite clearly the best stage racer of the post Armstrong era right now. This coming Tour will either cement that legacy or open the debate to who is currently the best stage racer. Contenders for that mantle are Menchov, Kreuziger, A. Schleck. I do think AC is a cut above those folks, but we'll find out in a few weeks.
I believe Kreuziger still has quite a way to go before being considered a serious contender. What has he ever done in a GT?
Don't get me wrong, I like the guy and think that he has great potential. He showed that potential in several week-long stage races, but in a 3-week tour? I'd venture to say that finishing second in last year's Tour in the young riders competition hardly makes you a contender for the mantle of best stage racer in the world.
IMHO, the best Kreuziger can hope for is a top 10 finish.
Cadel's biggest problem at the Tour might not be the lack of support in the mountains, but rather, time losses in the TTT.
Menchov, on the other hand, should have great support in both the mountains with Gesink and Ten Dam and also in the TTT. His biggest problem will be holding the form he had at the Giro.
A. Schleck- ITT's will hurt him, other than that, he should be really strong. Probably will podium.
Sastre is IMHO the only other serious contender outside Astana. He shouldn't be able to repeat, unless they let him go on Ventoux.
Armstrong? No idea. He did appear to be getting stronger as the Giro moved into its third week. Will he give Ferrari a ring? Will even some Ferrari super-cocktail be enough at almost 38, after almost 4 years out? Probably top 10, shouldn't make the podium.
Leipheimer? Not really GT champion material. Possibly top 5.
If anyone else was to break top 5, I'd be hugely surprised.

Now, back to Contador. His win at the Giro last year, with him being under-prepared, showed he's way better than those that were there. At the Vuelta, I think he didn't ride full gas. He is clearly the strongest rider out there. I agree that the race is his to lose, but you have to wonder with LA being there, the scenario Alpe d'Huez has put forward gains credibility. That being said, he really isn't the type of rider that relies that much on teammates to win races for him, so I don't know.

Anyway, looks like we're in for a close race. Especially with the course being set with probability for big gaps before the last ITT and Ventoux being very low.

My top 10:
1. Contador
2. Evans
3. Menchov
4. Sastre
5. A. Schleck
6. Leipheimer
7. Armstrong
8. F. Schleck
9. Rogers
10.Gesink

Pellizotti, V. Efimkin, Kirchen, LL Sanchez, Nibali, Vandevelde, Gerdemann will be waiting to pounce.
 
Jun 13, 2009
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Well, he's one a TdF, a Giro and a Vuelta so history says that makes him a pretty good rider. Remember, he's still young for a triple grand tour winner and there is plenty more time to add more titles.

It's a hard to judge him just on his feats so far, in five years time we will have a better indication ... I honestly don't see anyone in the current crop of riders troubling him in the next couple of years.

Will he beat Lance this year? I think the wheels would have to fall off for him to lose!
 
Mar 11, 2009
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BroDeal said:
If we want to go by official tests then Ullrich never tested positive. Neither did Basso. Neither did Mancebo. Neither did Kloden. Neither did Pantani for that matter.
That's a very good point + add Rasmussen.... I think a lot of people (including myself) forget about this.
 
Jun 9, 2009
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i think he proved he has pedigree at giro and vuelta the thing left for him is to prove he can win the tour outright and not a pick up from the rasmussen debacle. i just can't see any viable challengers to him. maybe if evans beats him in the tt and can hang onto him in the mountains.sastre will put in a good efffort then be eight minutes down the next day. Maybe andy but i dont think he quite there yet. As for lance and levi their fate will be sealed on first mountain stage.
Other than the situation at astana the tour is his for the taking
 
Jun 13, 2009
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BroDeal said:
If we want to go by official tests then Ullrich never tested positive. Neither did Basso. Neither did Mancebo. Neither did Kloden. Neither did Pantani for that matter.
Seth Bullock said:
That's a very good point + add Rasmussen.... I think a lot of people (including myself) forget about this.
While technically they didn't test positive, at least three of those riders commited doping violations or breached testing requirements ... that's as good as a positive and in most instances you get the same penalty. Basso, Pantani and Chicken are the three I can think of.
 

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