Alberto Contador is used to being the focus of celebrations in his home town of Pinto, near Madrid – he’s returned there six times as winner of either the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia or the Vuelta. Today, the 28-year-old was again the centre of attention there, this time alongside fiancée Macarena Pescador as the couple, who have been together for more than ten years, got married.
The Saxo Bank-SunGard rider, who enjoys immense popularity in his home country, had revealed his plans in an interview with Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, held back by the newspaper until today at Contador’s request to prevent “half of Madrid” turning up in Pinto to wish the couple well.
In the interview, published in today’s print edition, Contador revealed that on the whole he was happy with the way his season had gone, achieving his first goal of winning the Giro d’Italia.
He acknowledged, however, that taking part in that race hadn’t been the best preparation for the defence of his Tour de France title, where he had also had to contend with uncontrollable factors such as losing time to his rivals as a result of two crashes in the opening week.
Contador eventually finished fifth overall as Cadel Evans rode to the maillot jaune in Paris, although 2011 had of course started with serious doubts over whether he would be taking part in the race at all as a result of his positive test for clenbuterol during last year’s race.
Initially, the Spanish federation, the RFEC, had announced that the cyclist, who has always claimed that his positive test was due to his having eaten a contaminated steak, was likely to be banned for 12 months, but subsequently cleared him of all charges.
That decision has been appealed by world cycling’s governing body, the UCI and the World Anti-doping Agency. The much-delayed hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, originally scheduled for before this year’s Tour de France and then for August, has now been fixed for 21-24 November.
The Spaniard told the Gazzetta dello Sport that he was approaching that hearing “with a lot of tranquillity and a lot of trust. When someone has done nothing wrong, they have nothing to fear. I’m fighting for a matter of pride, it is unthinkable to accept any kind of sanction.”
Away from the sport, Contador revealed himself to be someone who takes delight in simple things such as taking walks in the countryside, hunting, and spending time with family and friends, a close-knit group with whom he grew up. Cycling figures little in their conversation.
As for his plans for 2012, assuming the CAS hearing goes his way, Contador remains flexible although he has ruled out seeking to defend his Giro crown; instead, besides the Tour de France, the time trial at both the London Olympics and the World Championships in Limburg in the Netherlands are potential targets.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.