Alberto Contador confirms he will defend Tour de France title

Three times winner to take part in July's race which finishes a week before CAS appeal hearing

by Simon_MacMichael   June 12, 2011  

Alberto Contador wins Stage 9 of the 2011 Giro d Italia pic RCS Sport.jpg

Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has confirmed that he will ride in this year’s race, which finishes just one week before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is scheduled to hear appeals from the UCI and World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) against the decision earlier this year of the Spanish national cycling federation, the RFEC, to clear him of doping charges.

Those charges, of course, result from Contador’s positive test for clenbuterol at last year’s Tour de France, which he went on to win. Tour organisers ASO had hoped that the situation would have been resolved ahead of this year’s race, and the CAS hearing had originally been set for earlier this month.

However, in May, shortly before the Saxo Bank-SunGard rider sealed an emphatic overall victory in the Giro d’Italia, the sixth grand tour win of his career, it was revealed that CAS had agreed to a request from Contador’s lawyers to delay the hearing to allow them more time to gather evidence on his behalf.

That leaves the way open for Contador to defend his title but also raises the prospect that if he succeeds in doing that, but subsequently loses the appeal at CAS, he could be stripped of both the 2010 and 2011 Tour de France – something that a sport which continues to struggle with the fallout of a succession of doping scandals involving some of its biggest names can ill-afford.

Speaking yesterday after taking part, along with 500 fans, in his own 150km sportive based around his home town of Pinto near Madrid, Contador confirmed that he is aiming to become the first cyclist since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win both the Giro and the Tour in the same year, a feat achieved by only seven riders.

“I’ll ride the Tour,” he told the Spanish sports daily AS. “I know that the Giro-Tour double is very difficult to do, few have managed it, but I’ll try.

Contador said that he’d considered missing the Tour to focus on the Vuelta instead, as he had done in 2008 after joining Astana, which ASO had excluded from the French race as a result of the doping scandal surrounding it the previous year, adding that team manager Bjarne Riis had helped influence his decision.

“The Giro was very tough, I still feel the tiredness in my muscles. It would have been easier for me to relax and prepare for the Vuelta, but the Tour is the biggest race with the best riders. It’s very important for the team and the sponsors that I take part in it. We examined the pros and cons along with Bjarne Riis and made the decision.

The 28-year-old reveald that he had undergone physical tests on Friday to gauge his condition. “The results are encouraging,” he said. “I’m not in the same condition as in other years at this point. But I consider it to be normal wear after the Giro and there is still time before the Tour.”

Contador is now setting off to undertake a recce of the mountain stages that will prove decisive in this year’s Tour, and between now and the race getting under way a fortnight on Saturday, his only competitive rides will be in the Spanish championships, where he intends to compete in both the road race and the individual time trial.
 

11 user comments

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bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [390 posts]
12th June 2011 - 15:22

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Get in Big Grin

2 wheels please!

posted by mancsi [119 posts]
12th June 2011 - 16:00

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At least we know in advance what the doping decision must be...

And with some doubts about Mexican beef, perhaps we should give him the benefit of doubt?

Ticktock

posted by Michael5 [121 posts]
12th June 2011 - 17:08

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Plasticizers...

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
12th June 2011 - 17:11

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Ole Contador!

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [483 posts]
12th June 2011 - 17:37

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He may well have 'confirmed' that he'll ride, but I'll wait till the ASO does the same.

posted by wild man [279 posts]
12th June 2011 - 17:51

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wild man wrote:
He may well have 'confirmed' that he'll ride, but I'll wait till the ASO does the same.

Possibly should have said in article - ASO have already said that they will not seek to exclude Contador from the race.

They are in a difficult position, and it isn't one of their own making. Contador has been cleared by his national federation, and is currently free to race.

Yes, they have in the past sought to exclude various teams/riders (eg Astana in 2008 as mentioned above).

If they sought to prevent Contador from taking part, we would almost certainly be looking at yet another payday for the lawyers.

Worth noting that Bjarne Riis has had issues with sponsors in the past couple of years, it took Contador's signing to get Saxo Bank to commit to renewing this year. I would imagine there was a lot of pressure from them for him to take part in the race, whether he wanted to or not.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8034 posts]
12th June 2011 - 18:15

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No one should be surprised at his decision to ride. Hoping that the other tour contenders manage to beat him!

posted by onlyonediane [159 posts]
12th June 2011 - 21:42

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Michael5 wrote:
At least we know in advance what the doping decision must be...

And with some doubts about Mexican beef, perhaps we should give him the benefit of doubt?

Agree. The UCI obviously need to look like they are not allowing a national body to 'clear' one of their own (especially now with the Lance cover-up allegations), but Bertie must have an extremely robust case and good legal team, plus the knowledge that a precedent seems to have been set for allowing athletes found with extremely low traces of Clenbuterol to be cleared. Perhaps the best result would be for WADA to set an allowable limit for Clenbuterol and acknowledge that, at present, the testing procedures are advanced of the rules.

Jon Burrage wrote:
Plasticizers...

It's a shame journalists don't have to use the Harvard referencing system when quoting sources, but then if that were the case a whole industry would be devastated overnight!
Mudslinging...

posted by pwake [291 posts]
13th June 2011 - 4:47

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the silence of the UCI is deafening of late, what's keeping McQuaid tongue tied?

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [950 posts]
13th June 2011 - 8:51

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So depressing. Not that Contador will ride (who could doubt that?), but that he hasn't been either banned or cleared by now. Though how he can be cleared? Even he's not disputing that he had traces of an illegal drug in his body.

No wonder my non-cycling friends are so cynical about the sport.

fourstringsisplenty's picture

posted by fourstringsisplenty [67 posts]
15th June 2011 - 9:32

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