Alberto Contador’s weight

Most bike races are decided on the hills or in the mountains and the speed you can cycle uphill is dictated by the power you can produce relative to your weight. This means there are two main things a racer will look to control. They want more watts, but fewer kilograms, which means more training and fewer cheese toasties.

It’s a fine balance, because a rider needs plenty of fuel too. There are all sorts of high tech ways in which nutrition is monitored and tinkered with. For example, here’s Alberto Contador’s winter methodology:

“I also kept my mouth closed to keep my weight under control, which is harder to do as you get older. I think we can see the results of all that work today.”

Well good work on keeping your trap shut, Alberto. Saying ‘no’ to those Scotch eggs and fondant fancies during January and February has clearly paid off because he was in another class to everyone else on stage five of Tirreno-Adriatico.

How did it play out?

Weirdly. Although the stage finished with a beyond-fiendish 22% climb, the penultimate slope was the big one (albeit a damn sight steadier). Contador attacked once, in the middle, and Nairo Quintana went with him. It looked perfect with only a smallish group following, but the two had a chat and appeared to decide that they couldn’t be arsed.

A few minutes later, still on the same slope, Contador went on his own. Quintana tried to chase him but after several minutes, he still hadn’t caught up and he eventually had to slink back to the main group, a defeated man.

Contador powered on, however, picking up breakaway riders along the way, who trailed in his wake on the approach to the final climb, glad of a bit of a free ride before the misery. It’s safe to say that drafting wasn’t really of benefit on the Muro di Guardiagrele where even Contador pretty much came to a standstill and was reduced to tacking side to side in a bid to flatten the gradient. Even then, he was at less than walking pace.

As Marcel Kittel said of the climb afterwards:

“I just tried to concentrate to not fall over.”

Contador took a minute-odd off each of his rivals and should now win Tirreno-Adriatico.

Meanwhile in Paris-Nice…

We have a winner who appears to have left his mouth open for much of the winter. Carlos Betancur finished in the front group on the final stage and so took the overall victory. Expect less of him, corporeally, come the Ardennes classics in April, but expect just as much of him otherwise.