Ever since his 2012 suspension for a Clenbuterol positive, El Pistolero has seemed to lack the firepower that saw him dominate every grand tour he entered. He’s had a mostly solid spring, with good results but no sign of his past supremacy. And though leading up to the Dauphiné earlier this month he stressed that he had no designs on winning, his abysmal TT performance on Stage 4 in which he hemorrhaged two minutes and 46 seconds to Froome over just 20 miles (he blamed allergies) surely couldn’t have helped his confidence. Then again, Froome and the other competition must remember last year’s Vuelta, in which Contador was clearly not firing on all cylinders and had a fairly weak team to support him—and yet still managed to win.
The 30-year-old is one of the most intelligent and irrepressible racers in the peloton, and with five grand tours already to his name (not including the two that he was stripped of for doping) he’s obviously not heading to this Tour for second. He also brings one of the strongest supporting casts he’s seen since his controversial and stacked 2009 team at Astana, including heavyweights Michael Rogers, Roman Kreuziger, Sergio Paulinho, and Benjamin Noval. He has everything it takes to win this Tour provided he’s at his best, and based on his experience we bet he brings his A-game.