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Spaniard prepares for home Grand Tour after returning from ban in the Eneco Tour last week

Alberto Contador, who last week returned from his ban due to his positive test for clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France, has said that he feels in good shape ahead of his home Grand Tour, the Vuelta, which starts in Pamplona on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Contador, who despite that six-month break from competition starts the race as the bookies’ favourite ahead of last year’s runner-up, Team Sky’s Chris Froome, returned to racing with Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank at last week’s Eneco Tour, where he finished eighth overall. The race was won by Rabobank’s Lars Boom.

“Even though we mostly rode on flat courses, this has been a convincing week of racing for me”, said Contador. “I’m in good shape. I’ve felt better and better every day and I believe there’s still room for improvement in the coming week. I’m also delighted by the way the team rode for me the whole week.”

Describing the Spaniard’s performance as “encouraging,” sports director Bradley McGee said: “We’ve often been asked when Alberto will take the lead at the Vuelta but I don’t think it’s in our interest to have the red jersey too early. Knowing Alberto, he’ll take it when it comes. He just loves to race.

“But we just have to concentrate on final details, stay focused all the way and recover when we can. There’s no way we’ll envisage by how much he’ll win the Vuelta! This is what makes it difficult to win.

“I guess Chris Froome will be the main rival. Our advantage will be that even Sky, with all their strength, would have a hard time dominating two Grand Tours the same year. However, I don’t think the challenge will come from individuals riding for GC but from riders who have nothing to lose.”

With his season typically built around the Tour de France, this will be only the second time that Contador has ridden the Vuelta in his career. He won the race on his only previous participation, in 2008, followed his switch to Astana who were excluded from that year’s Tour following Alexandre Vinokourov failing a doping control in the 2007 edition.

“The level and the course of this year’s Vuelta are very high,” revealed Bruno Pires, who will be one of the riders supporting Contador in the race. “We’ll do everything we can to help Alberto reach his goal.”

The route itself is unlikely to hold much in the way of surprises for Contador. The Bola del Mundo, which hosts the potentially decisive summit finish of the penultimate stage of the race, is within a training ride’s distance of his home town of Pinto on the edge of Madrid, while with no racing obligations troubling his calendar since February, he has been able to recce other key stages at his leisure.

Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank Vuelta team: Alberto Contador (Spa), Jesus Hernandez (Spa), Daniel Navarro (Spa), Benjamin Noval (Spa), Rafael Majka (Pol), Bruno Pires (Por), Sergio Paulinho (Por), Matteo Tossato (Ita) and Nicki Sorensen (Den). Directeurs sportifs: Bradley McGee and Philippe Mauduit.
 

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.

19 comments

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BigDummy [314 posts] 4 years ago
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Welcome to your post-Olympic downer.

Here to remind you that sport is usually so frustratingy full of awful you just want it to end, ladies and gentlemen please welcome, the one, the only: Alberto Contador!

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BigDummy [314 posts] 4 years ago
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The man admiringly described as "un vrai Vino pour nos jours".

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Brummmie [58 posts] 4 years ago
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Disgraceful.

The guy should be roundly booed in my opinion. The Tour, The Olympics and now this..............cheating little rat !

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AlexStriplight [75 posts] 4 years ago
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Rules is rules, apparently. He's allowed to compete and if in form it'll be a great race between him and Froome. Looking forward to it myself.

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Gkam84 [9098 posts] 4 years ago
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Why is everything in bold?

Hopefully he does a nasty and takes a tumble which rules him out for another year or so  19

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doc [167 posts] 4 years ago
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Everyone is allowed a mistake, and the chance to redeem themselves. That is the rule. He's served his ban and now returns, as have others. What ever anyone may think he is entitled to ride, and it will be interesting to see how he and Froome match up.
Let's just hope it's a clean scrap, in every sense of the word.

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andylul [410 posts] 4 years ago
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## SLAP ##

That bloody photo again - have you got any of him looking a little less smug, please?

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drheaton [3318 posts] 4 years ago
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doc wrote:

Everyone is allowed a mistake, and the chance to redeem themselves. That is the rule. He's served his ban and now returns, as have others. What ever anyone may think he is entitled to ride, and it will be interesting to see how he and Froome match up.
Let's just hope it's a clean scrap, in every sense of the word.

My issue is that he hasn't served his ban, he's served a few months of a two year ban thanks to all the legal wrangling.

It'll be interesting to see how in form he is after little/no competitive racing for the best part of a year going straight into the Vuelta. He might not be at 100% but he'll be fresher than everyone else.

Either way he'll have beefed up a bit over the break no doubt and be ready for the big hills where he'll stake his claim for the victory. It'll be a baptism of fire for Froome when it comes to team leading and it'll be interesting to see if the little jumps and accelerations he showed in the TdF can actually be sustained into full attacks against a quality opponent.

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andylul [410 posts] 4 years ago
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"he'll have beefed up a bit"

I see what you did there  1

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Sandy_l [25 posts] 4 years ago
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How do you determine if a doper is in form or not?

Surely there form in the past could have been affected by taking performance enhancing drugs.

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mingmong [272 posts] 4 years ago
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What's worse? The fact that he's served a small ban or the fact that he's not admitted he's a cheat?  39

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notfastenough [3718 posts] 4 years ago
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did you miss the "stake his claim" though? If so, no bonus points for you!  1

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antonio [1151 posts] 4 years ago
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"stake his claim" surely a mis spelt word, 'steak his claim'.

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Gkam84 [9098 posts] 4 years ago
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He's Moo'ved maybe we should and wish him an udderly SMASHING Vuelta. Then the Spanish shall party till the cows come home  19 19

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drheaton [3318 posts] 4 years ago
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I agree, let's all moo-ve on. Also, let's stop milking the beef jokes. I'm really beginning to get cheesed off with the bad puns.

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mingmong [272 posts] 4 years ago
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Yeah, steer-dy on everyone.

He must be the Ox on favourite, anyone who disagrees are talking bullocks.

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Simon_MacMichael [2477 posts] 4 years ago
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It's rare to see such sizzling punnery on a medium such as this. Well done.

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Celeste08 [38 posts] 4 years ago
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Aside from all the doping opinions we have what it takes to make the Vuelta exciting: two very good and very eager riders who really want that title to make their respective 2012 season's count. Can't wait!

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stevengoodfellow [59 posts] 4 years ago
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It's sure to be a great race between Froome and the cheat, and let's not discount the rest of the field. The really interesting point though is whether the spaniard can succeed without his beef products.