BICICICLISMO | Alberto Contador is set to tackle a challenge-filled 2012 that will focus on the fight for a fourth Tour de France victory and preparations for the Olympic Games in London. Contador said in a recent television interview that, in order to meet those challenges, he hopes to improve overall and offer "his best level ever."
The Tour de France will be Contador's top goal next year, and he looks forward to being "eager to be on the bicycle and in great form" come next July, so he accepts that he should make a "calmer" start to the season.
"I only have one thing in mind, fighting for the victory," he said in a joint appearance with Samuel Sánchez on Teledeporte. In the Olympics time trial, the leader of Saxo Bank-SunGard is confident that he's capable of improving on his fourth place in Beijing, since riding the Tour de France could give him the pedal stroke he lacked in China four years ago.
Looking forward to 2012, his expectations are very high, with the principal objective being winning his fourth Tour de France and adding the new twist of following it up with the Olympics. "This year I'm focused, I have everything very well organized in my mind, and I hope to be at the best level ever," he said. TOUR 2012 ROUTE
Tour, Olympics, Vuelta, Worlds...
Contador thinks that, at least in theory, there's time for it all. "The Olympic Games are gratis because they're immediately after the Tour; the only thing you have to do is to rest. And then, as for tackling the Vuelta, that's where you do have to make more effort, not only physically but also mentally, because it's a lot of months of pressure. And with the Worlds after the Vuelta, it's exactly the same as the Olympics after the Tour: it comes ten days after and ends up being a little easier."
Therefore, he has already outlined the mindset he'll need in order to face each moment of the season. "I'm going to try to take the beginning of the season easier because once I get into competition, it takes a bit of a toll. I want to get a few good results, although I want to reach the Tour de France eager to be on the bicycle and in great form," he summarized.
His biggest goal will be to win the Tour de France. "In the month of July, when I'm at the start line of the Tour, the objective will be to fight for victory, knowing that it's very difficult to win because there are many, many riders who prepared to the max to win it. And in a three-week race, many factors come into play. Luck, for example. I always ask not to have bad luck, and at the tactical level, crashes, punctures... But, yes, I only have one thing in mind, fighting for the victory," he says.
Excited about the Games
Other than the Tour, Contador has a score to settle with his fourth place in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 (a loss of the bronze medal to Levi Leipheimer by eight seconds), and he wants to fight for a medal in London. The Madrileño thinks that his chances will improve because he will have just ridden the Tour de France, as opposed to having just completed the Giro/Vuelta double in 2008. "I feel like trying it, because it's very different from 2008 when I was at the Olympics without having done the Tour de France, and there were riders who had a different pedal stroke. I am aware that it's not a very hard route and that it's better for specialists like Cancellara, Martin and Wiggins."
As for the 2008 Olympics, he revealed that on the way to the time trial course, the Spanish team bus got lost and that he prayed that wind conditions would be an aid. However, it wasn't like that. "It was in our faces, and that, to riders like Cancellara, was a big help, and the time differences on the climb were not that great. On the other hand, on the descent we trimmed back a lot," he recalled.
José Luis de Santo will have to select five riders, including two for the time trial. "Of course, he has to take to the Olympics a group of the ones who are in the best form. It's true that Samuel, Alejandro and I, together with some other rider who can be in good form – we'll ride the Tour and that's a huge advantage and we will definitely make the most of it," he said.
And he makes his own pool of possible winners. ¨For the road race, Samuel as winner – I wouldn't dream of him not being in London – and Alejandro is a great backup. He's super classy and will also give us many options for victory. For the time trial, there's a group of riders, and I'm one of them. It'll be important to see how the year goes and how each person does in the Tour de France, which I think is crucial for finding the pedal stroke, for example, that I didn't have in 2008," he said.
"Personally, the road race is not the best-suited for me, but there'll be other riders, like Samuel and Valverde, who are two great candidates for the victory," he added.
In his opinion, the London Games come at the ideal time after the Tour. "I think, personally, that it's perfect six days after, because it allows you to recover, to rest. That is, you have to be focused in order to pass the finish line in Paris just right, knowing that the goal is to recover as well as possible, thinking that six days later come the Olympic Games. It's going to depend on how each person finishes the Tour. What's clear is that the majority of the candidates for victory in London will have been in the Tour before."
Contador has confidence in the power of the Spanish team. "Without doubt, Gilbert is a clear favorite for the victory, but there are many more. Our team is one of the two or three strongest and I find that encouraging in tackling this challenge."
Furthermore, he emphasizes that the Olympics "without doubt has nothing to do with the Worlds". "Being able to maintain control with five riders is much, much more complicated. And I think that both the Olympics and Worlds are a totally different kind of race, very marked by the long mileage, and that wears people out," he explained.
Flying dragon, 2008 (EFE)
VIDEO: Contador and Sánchez on TeleDeporte, December 18
EL COMERCIO | Dani Navarro and Benjamín Noval, loyal domestiques of Alberto Contador, will kick off the 2012 season in the Tour of the Mediterranean, February 11-15.
The two Saxo Bank riders have just returned from the recent team camp in Israel, where they were busy with several projects in different cities. Both riders agree that “it was a good experience as a first contact for getting to know our new teammates, and for criteriums, visiting schools… We even went skydiving.”
Navarro, after the race in the south of France, will continue with his lead-up to the Tour de France by riding Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya, the Gran Premio Miguel Indurain, the Tour of the Basque Country, Amorebieta, the Tour of Romandie and the Dauphiné, where he won a stage in 2010.
Meanwhile, Noval´s pre-Tour calendar will feature Haut Var, Three Days of De Panne, the Volta a Catalunya, the Gran Premio de Lesarte, the Tour of Turkey, the Tour of Picardie, Valle de Runza and the Tour of Switzerland.
Both Asturians will use these races to try to peak in form for the Grande Boucle with Contador.
Photo: Navarro, Contador and Noval (El Comercio)
Alberto Contador shared this video at Twitter today about the just-completed project to build a cycling school for Muslim and Jewish children at the Shimon Peres Center for Peace in Israel.
See more videos of Contador and Saxo Bank in Israel at VIDDYCONTADOR
BICICICLISMO | "I want you to see me stronger than ever in 2012," says Alberto Contador in an interview in La Gazzetta dello Sport. Targeting the Tour de France as his "great goal", the Saxo Bank-SunGard leader has outlined a program that skips the classics and runs the gamut of six stage races plus a few days in Mallorca before attempting his fourth victory in Paris.
Contador has selected the following program for 2012: the Tour de San Luis (Argentina), a few stages of the Mallorca Challenge, the Volta ao Algarve, Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya, the Vuelta al País Vasco, and a rest break before resuming with the Dauphiné, the Spanish nationals, and the Tour de France. In other words, the Madrileño is betting on a preparation based on week-long stage races that excludes the Ardennes classics.
The London Games are still in the picture. "In the Olympic Games I want to do the best I can in the time trial. As for the road race, if I'm chosen, I'll be at the disposal of my teammates," he says.
Contador thinks that he can still improve "in everything: nutrition, time trial, mountains, equipment, nutrition. About that, I should be even more meticulous," he explains.
He thinks that he'll have a good team around him at the Tour de France, "very sound teammates." In fact, he advances the names of Jesús Hernández, Dani Navarro, Benjamín Noval, Sergio Paulinho, Nicki Sørensen and Chris Sørensen.
In addition, Contador confesses that he has scarcely ridden the bike since August. "I had a lot of things to do: family, as well as trips and meetings with sponsors. But I haven't been totally idle: I've played tennis and gone hunting many times. I know that it's not the best, but that has allowed me to make a complete recovery, both physically and mentally, after an extremely hard season. Plus, it's best to concentrate all the commitments into the off-season and once the season starts, devote myself only to cycling," he concludes.
Alberto Contador gives Simon Peres a jersey signed by Saxo Bank-SunGard (Biciciclismo)
Alberto Contador won a criterium today in the city of Jerusalem, where Saxo Bank-SunGard's training camp is currently underway. The Spaniard has celebrated his 29th birthday on the podium.
Earlier today, Contador received a birthday present from Israeli president Simon Peres, and reciprocated by giving Peres a jersey signed by the entire team. The team, who will finish camp next Sunday, December 11, visited the Holocaust Museum before riding the criterium.
Jerusalem's city center was closed today in order to host its first-ever cycling criterium, an exhibition race of just under an hour which took the riders ten times around a demanding circuit. Elite Israeli cyclists and the Saxo Bank team were the main players in the race.
Early in the ride, Rafa Majka dominated, escaping with two Israelis in pursuit. Forty minutes later, the peloton had managed to regroup when Contador launched the powerful attack that took him, ultimately, to a birthday celebration on the top step of the podium.
Only one mishap threw cold water on the party: an unfortunate crash by Contador's teammate Chris Anker Sørensen.
"I'm very happy to be here in first place. This first week of my stay here, I've had great support in a fascinating country. When we were doing the cycling school project in Acre, people were extremely supportive. I'm proud to be the first to win a criterium here in Jerusalem," said Alberto Contador after the race.
December 2 | Beautiful video from the Talita Foundation's Calendario Solidario to benefit Down Syndrome (supported by Alberto Contador)
December 2 | Ekstrabladet | Video: Contador and Nicki Sørensen at work building cycling school in Israel
December 2 | Sporten.tv2.dk | Video: Bjarne Riis and Ran Margaliot talk about cycling school construction while Contador labors on site
December 1 | Cyclingnews - Saxo Bank team members building a school in Israel
Alberto Contador and his teammates are already at work in Israel constructing a building for Cycling for Peace, a new cycling school to be opened at the Shimon Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
“It's an ambitious project with visions concerning making living easier in the relationship between Jews and Muslim children, and I believe that in the long run projects like these can turn prejudices to concern, and create a good foundation for at least a small group of kids here and now, but also for a big group of people in the long run by introducing them to sports and physical activities,” said Bjarne Riis. “It really doesn't matter if it's cycling or any other sport. We know that when you do sports you'll have a healthier and more versatile life.”
Saxo Bank riders build the future home of Cycling for Peace (@albertocontador)
December 1 | Jerusalem Post - Contador & Co. ready to pedal through Israel, by Allon Sinai
December 1 | Photos of Saxo Bank in Israel
November 28 | Buscolu.com – Aniversario de la Peña de Dani Navarro
Saxo Bank's climber from Asturias, Dani Navarro, celebrates the first anniversary of his cycling club. With photos.
Alberto Contador and Bjarne Riis kid around at Saxo presentation (Neils Meilvang/AFP/Getty Images)
BICICICLISMO | Getting his fourth victory in the Tour de France is, without doubt, the main objective of Alberto Contador, and he's keeping open the option of taking part in the Vuelta a España. In addition, the Madrileño shared the news during the Saxo Bank presentation that his eyes are also on the Olympic time trial in London.
“Why not try this new challenge in London? Sounds interesting… If the possibility is there, I´m going to give it a chance,” he said. In fact, he could take advantage of his good form after the Tour - which ends on July 22 - and attempt to make a raid on the medals in the London time trial on August 1, and so compensate for his fourth place in Beijing, outmatched by Cancellara, Larsson and Leipheimer, who brought in the bronze by eight seconds.
“After the Tour, I think that I'll do the crono in London, and maybe the Vuelta, although it's too soon to say. The Vuelta is not counted out. It's quite a good possibility,” he emphasized.
A few weeks ago he had already expressed his intention to be in London. “Yes, I'd like to be there, as far as that's possible. In the time trial, which comes after the Tour, I think that it's possible to put in a good ride,” he maintained in an interview in La Gazzetta dello Sport.
More than anything, he wants to center on the Tour and arrive well-prepared, not like in 2011 when, in France, he paid for the efforts of the Giro d´Italia. "The principal objective is to win the Tour de France. I know that's very difficult. Everybody wants to win, but I´m going to work hard for it. I don't know if I can win or not, but I'll try. I want to have a well-organized program and, above all, to arrive at the Tour rested. Last year I didn't have a good preparation and this year I want to do it perfectly,” he explained.
“I want to arrive with strength at Le Grande Boucle, because last year after the Giro d'Italia I was worn out and I didn't obtain everything that I wanted on the French roads...” he added.
If the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) allows, he'll debut in the Tour of San Luis (Argentina), in January, and Tirreno-Adriatico will be his first test. The Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta al País Vasco are also on his agenda, he'll ride at least one of the two, as well as the Vuelta a Castilla y León. In theory, he´ll bow out of the Ardennes classics and the Giro d´Italia, which he won in 2011. As a last test before the Tour, he'll ride the Critérium de Dauphiné, and with the Olympic time trial and the Vuelta, he could round out the season, although he has also shown interest in the Worlds time trial in Limburg.
Also, Contador showed his absolute faith in his teammates on Saxo Bank. “The team seems complete to me, very, very good. I'm convinced that my teammates are going to assure total support. I have 100% confidence in them all. I'm sure that this year will be a very good year for the team. We know the importance of a good program for the grand tours; I'm sure that we´re going to be very strong in all the races,” he said.
Alberto Contador and Bjarne Riis kid around at Saxo presentation (Neils Meilvang/AFP/Getty Images)
MARCA (EFE) | The main objective of Saxo Bank for next season will be “to take back the Tour de France” with Spanish rider Alberto Contador, said director Bjarne Riis at the Danish team's presentation in Copenhagen on Tuesday.
Riis was “very satisfied” with the 29 riders that make up the team, and who will travel to Israel within hours, where they’ll carry out the first training camp of the 2012 season. “There’ve been speculations that the team is not sufficiently strong, but I don’t agree. We have a strong team,” said Riis.
Saxo Bank’s season will have a different focus from last year, and even though the team will also target the classics and the Giro d’Italia, “the first thing” will be to win the Tour with Contador, which would thus get him his fourth victory in Le Grand Boucle.
The team has signed the Portuguese rider Sergio Paulinho and Karsten Kroon of the Netherlands, but has lost Australian Richie Porte, now at Sky. The two-week training camp in Israel, a country without a cycling tradition, will be “very different” from the ones in past years.
Saxo Bank personnel will help to build a cycling school for Jewish and Arab children and will, in addition, participate in the first cycling criterium ever done in the Jerusalem city center, Riis revealed.
MARCA (EFE) | Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador said today that he is fully focused on the upcoming training camp with his team, the Danish outfit Saxo Bank. The first training camp of the 2012 season begins this Wednesday in Israel.
Contador spoke today in a press conference following Saxo Bank's team presentation in Copenhagen. He declined to talk about the clenbuterol case. "That was something that happened last week," he said of his appearance before the high court. "Now I'm fully focused on this and only this."
The four-day hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport wrapped up last Thursday, November 24, to await a ruling expected early next year.
Contador, who has won the Tour de France three times, repeated that there's no goal but the Tour de France for next season, and that the calendar will center on the French grand tour. "I want to have a well-organized program and, especially, to arrive at the Tour rested. Last year I didn't have good preparation and this year I want to do it perfectly," he said.
The demands of the Giro d'Itali have caused Contador to reject the idea of riding that race this year. He will, therefore, approach the first part of the season differently, and has scheduled a break before re-entering competition in June at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
As he has done before at the team presentation, director Bjarne Riis defended the strength of the Danish squad from apparent critics. Contador showed his trust and confidence in his teammates, defining the group as "very balanced" and as offering "complete assurances" to back his hopes to win another Tour.
If the Giro is absolutely not an option, the same cannot be said for the Vuelta a España, which Contador feels is a distinct possibility. "I can't say much so far ahead of time, but it has not been counted out, and there's quite a good chance," he said.
Contador was also excited about being able to ride in the Olympic time trial in London, taking advantage of Tour form, although he did admit that the route is not a good fit for his characteristics and that he will not be among the favorites.
BICICICLISMO | Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank team, with Alberto Contador, will be presented tomorrow, Tuesday, in the bank's headquarters in Denmark, before beginning a training camp in Israel that will last until December 11.
The group that Contador heads will begin its meticulous preparation for the 2012 season in the next week, when the new team, the staff and management personnel will meet for the first time.
This year the team will swing into action on November 29, starting with a camp in Israel that will last until December 11. As usual, the main goal of this first contact is for all members of the organization to get to know one another and build a strong team spirit, which is one of the fundamental values of Riis Cycling.
Special tasks on this occasion will be centered around two themes, charity and activities to benefit children, and the globalization and promotion of the bicycle. This work will be accomplished in cooperation with the Israeli philanthropist Raya Strauss and the Simón Peres Center for Peace. In addition, the team will be received by the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat.
The team's boss, Bjarne Riis, says that: "I think we have put together a very different and very interesting program in cooperation with Raya Strauss and The Shimon Peres Center for Peace in Israel. We believe this is a great way of building our team and giving everyone onboard a lifetime experience. At the same time we hope to showcase that cycling has many qualities to offer when it comes to helping others."
Before leaving for Israel, Saxo Bank and Riis Cycling will hold a team presentation which takes place at 10:00 tomorrow, Tuesday, at Saxo Bank's corporate headquarters in Denmark.
Saxo Bank's 2012 team
Returning: Manuele Boaro, Alberto Contador, Volodymir Gustov, the brothers Juan José and Lucas Sebastián Haedo, Jesús Hernández, Jonas Aen Jorgensen, Kasper Klostergaard, Rafal Majka, Jaroslow Marycz, Michael Mørkøv, Dani Navarro, Benjamín Noval, Nick Nuyens, Luke Roberts, Chris Anker Sorensen, Nicki Sorensen, David Tanner, Matteo Tossato. New this year: Jonathan Cantwell (V Australia), Christopher Juul Jensen, (Glud&Marstrand), Karsten Kroon (BMC), Anders Lund (Leopard-Trek), Ran Margaliot (stagiare, Saxo Bank-SunGard), Takashi Miyazawa (Farnese-Vini), Sergio Paulinho (RadioShack), Bruno Pires (Leopard-Trek) and Troels Vinther (Glud&Marstrand).
EL COMERCIO reports from Gijón, November 21: Saxo Bank’s Asturian riders will participate with Alberto Contador in the first training camp of the year in Israel.
The Asturian professional cyclists’ pre-season is underway. Dani Navarro and Benjamin Noval will be the first to swing into action, since Samuel Sánchez, following recent hip surgery, will scarcely be able to climb on the bicycle during Euskaltel Euskadi’s camp scheduled for today in Derio.
Both riders will make first contact with Saxo Bank at the end of this month. Navarro and Noval will travel with Alberto Contador to the Holy Land, Israel, on November 28th and return on December 11. (Trip to include team presentation in Denmark on Tuesday, November 29. -ed.)
Bjarne Riis, director of the Danish team, wants to meet with all of his cyclists to sketch out the 2012 calendar and so that those who are continuing with the Scandinavian team meet the new recruits: Christopher Juul Jensen (Glud&Marstrand), Karsten Kroon (BMC), Anders Lund (Leopard-Trek), the Israeli rider Ran Margaliot, Sergio Paulinho (RadioShack), Bruno Pires (Leopard-Trek) and Troels Vinther (Glud&Marstrand).
It’s worth noting that Noval and Navarro have trained for a little over two weeks. The first of them was finally able to climb on the saddle after undergoing an operation for a cyst, which prevented him finishing the season after the Tour. As for Navarro, he has also been doing some kilometers on the Asturian roads after a considerable pause, since he has scarcely exercised since the Tour.
In principle, the two Asturian riders will focus their preparation with eyes on the Grand Boucle. One thing they will not do is the Giro d’Italia, which Navarro did this year with Contador, a race that threw the Madrilenian’s preparation for the Tour out of balance.
Tour de San Luis
During the camp in Israel, Riis will facilitate the different teams that will do the first races of the year. Contador, seemingly, accompanied at least by Dani Navarro, will be at the Tour de San Luis (Argentina), at the end of January, where Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali’s presence has also been confirmed.
The fourth Asturain professional, Carlos Barredo - since Higinio Fernández, Luis Pasamontes and Santi Pérez still don’t know where they’ll be in the future - will do a cyclocross race in Belgium and, two days later in in Holland, will have the presentation program for his team, Rabobank.
Photo: Navarro, Contador and Noval: All for one and one for all (J.V., El Comercio)
Contador faces opponents at CAS with attorneys Mike Morgan (center) and Adam Lewis (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)
The Spaniard testified for half an hour during the hearing's third session today, his team have said only that he was very secure.
AS.com | Juan Gutiérrez | Lausanne | The third session of the Contador case took place today at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne. The session ended at 18:20, after nearly ten hours. The day began this morning with scientific matters that were left hanging yesterday.
Also today, cyclists Benjamín Noval and Paolo Tiralongo have testified for five minutes each, and have confirmed that they also ate the allegedly clenbuterol-tainted meat on July 20, 2010, during the Tour de France.
The session closed with a statement by Contador after half an hour of testimony. The only thing that has been divulged is that his innocence has been confirmed and that "he has been very convincing," according to people in his entourage.
There was a very intense debate during almost the entire session, in which scientific matters concerning blood doping, plasticizers, etc. have been addressed.
In the final session tomorrow, slated to last until 12:30, both parties will make known their conclusions without further witnesses.
The hearing is closed to the press. Reports are not based on official information from CAS or involved parties. No press conference is expected upon completion of the hearing tomorrow, and no decision is expected on the part of the CAS judges before the first of the year. -Editor
El País in English | Contador fleshes out his defense, by Carlos Arribas
Account by the Spanish journal of record of the first day arguments at CAS.
Contador's own pharmacokinetic study refutes the prosecution theory completely, pointing especially to the elevated level of toxicity that would be present in a person who had injected clenbuterol for three weeks. The cyclist's defense also emphasizes that for an athlete who undergoes as many tests as Contador - 32 in the seven months before the 2010 Tour - taking a banned substance for three consecutive weeks would be sheer folly. The study also questions WADA's calculation of the amount Contador urinates during competition, based on mid-Tour controls; WADA says 1.172 liters but Contador's team says he urinates as much as two liters. In the report, Contador himself states that if he only fills three-quarters of a sample container, it is for hygienic reasons. In 112 experiments using the WADA data, Tomás Martín Jiménez of the University of Tennessee found no scenario in which 50 picograms of clenbuterol could have been detected.
The other main component of Contador's defense is Sheila Bird, a biostatistician and a world authority on mad cow disease who painted a bleak panorama of health controls in the European meat industry. According to Bird, and based on EU and Spanish regional data, only 900 of every one million cattle are tested before sale in Europe. Therefore, it can be affirmed that 99 percent of beef consumed in Spain has not been through any checks. According to Contador, a brother of the Salamancan farmer who raised the animal had previously been implicated in a case of illegal fattening with clenbuterol.
Read the complete article
AS.com | Juan Gutiérrez | Lausanne | Alberto Contador struck another effective blow in Lausanne yesterday: the lie detector test.
The legal strategy of British lawyer Mike Morgan continues to move forward, that is, closed doors to the press and bold moves before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). If Contador offered a surprise on the first day by being present in the chamber from the outset of the hearing, yesterday he presented a report by two experts in the lie detector test. The polygraph, still not definitive proof, said that "Contador has not undergone any blood transfusion."
Contador faced the polygraph voluntarily on May 3 in California with specialist Louis Rovner. If you browse Rovner's website, you can learn that the lie detector test has a "scientific validity of 96%." And you'll find the following statement: "Dr. Rovner is the only polygraph expert in California who has had his tests admitted in criminal court."
The cyclist was subjected to Rovner's polygraph, which determined that Contador told the truth when he denied doping. The test was sent to another expert, John Palmatier, at the University of Florida, who verified the results. And he was recorded on a video that the defense has made available to the judges if they consider watching it applicable. Rovner testified yesterday in Lausanne and Palmatier participated via video-conferencing. They explained the method and its conclusions, but did not project the images.
Today he testifies
Contador's team presented the polygraph during the second session at CAS (Tuesday), which one of his lawyers, Luis Bardají (joined yesterday), defined as "the most important," because it dealt with scientific matters. The day began with the testimony of the two statisticians. Javier Martín Pliego represented WADA, arguing that in Spain there is one chance in 20,000 that a piece of veal is contaminated with clenbuterol. For Contador, Sheila Bird argued that only 900 out of 1,000,000 head of beef are tested in Europe, and in Spain only 1%.
Other topics presented were the biological passport and plasticizers, through which the prosecution wants to prove its blood-transfusion theory. The UCI and WADA argue yes. The lie detector says no. And Contador will put the formal seal on its registering of true in court today, this time in person and without the need of a polygraph. Another bold move?
Photo: Contador with attorney Andy Ramos at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on November 21, 2011 (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)
Giro d'Italia 2011: Tiralongo wins his first professional victory, with a little help from his friend Contador (LUk Benies/AFP/Getty Images)
La Gazzetta dello Sport (print edition) | November 17 | He had no doubt, and when Alberto called him, Paolo didn't think twice about it. He decided immediately: "Sure, I'll come to Lausanne to be a witness."
Alberto is Contador, the number one. Paolo is Tiralongo: This year he won his first career victory - the Macugnaga stage at the Giro - with the King's blessing. And in 2010, he was Contador's teammate at Astana, and his gregario in that victorious and, thanks to the clenbuterol case, controversial Tour.
"I was always around him, and not only during the race." So it was not by chance that this 34-year-old Sicilian was present at what would prove to be a key moment of that Tour: the dinner at the Hotel Lescar in Pau. Precisely the one with "clenbuterol in the meat."
And so Tiralongo will be the only Italian among Contador's witnesses at the CAS hearing (November 21-24, with a decision expected within 6-8 weeks). Barring changes to the schedule, he'll arrive in Switzerland on the evening of the 22nd, and will testify in Contador's favor the next day.
Tiralongo, do you still remember the evening that later became famous?
Yes, of course. Those were the decisive days of a hard-fought Tour (in Paris, Alberto was only ahead of Andy by 39 seconds). Alberto and I were in close contact; in reality, we did practically all the same things.
Why didn't all the members of the team eat that meat?
Alberto and I and the other Spaniards got done later and went to dinner afterwards. The Kazakh team, with Vinokourov, had dinner before, but they complained about the quality of the food. So we ate meat that had been given to Alberto by a friend, cooked by our chef Paco. It was good and very tender. There's no problem going to Switzerland and telling what happened.
What do you think of his story?
I'm sure of Alberto's innocence.
What is the basis of your conviction?
During the first training camp, he had made it clear what he thought about doping. "Guys," he had said, "you can't joke around, because there are about sixty people working for the team, and their jobs also depend on how we behave." So every kind of action that wasn't in accordance with this seems impossible to me.
How many times have you heard from him lately? How was his mood?
We spoke three times and arranged to meet in Switzerland. He sounded serene to me. He said that he wasn't shaken, that he wasn't afraid, because "they can't accuse me of something I didn't do."
Translation by M. Sarti
El Día Digital | Alberto Contador, winner of cycling’s three grand tours, is the big name who will receive this year’s “His Weight In Honey” prize from the Peñalver Cultural Association.
The organization, located in a region of Spain famous for honey production, grants the prize annually to a person who is outstanding in his profession. Contador has been recognized for his track record both as a winner and as a person with a strong sense of ethics.
The date for bestowing the honor has not yet been set, being dependent upon Contador’s schedule. The rider from Pinto has already stated, however, that he is particularly excited about claiming the golden prize, since he is going through difficult times due to his still unresolved clenbuterol case, and because this year he wants to throw himself wholeheartedly into preparing for the Tour de France.
Contador will receive 60 kilos (5 gallons) of honey for his own approximate weight, but more will be added to represent the bicycles that he has ridden to victory in the most famous races on the international cycling calendar.
What could be done with such a quantity of honey? Actually, quite a lot. Eating honey provides the body with many vitamins and minerals and, unlike raw sugar, helps it rid itself of bad cholesterol and fatty acids. It also acts as a dietary disinfectant and antiseptic which deters the internal proliferation of disease-causing germs. Honey has a calming effect when taken with hot milk at bedtime, and is good for sore throat, cough and cold when mixed with lime juice. For those interested in desert expeditions, it is also said to be a thirst-quencher when mixed with water.
Five gallons of honey, which contains about 82,480 calories, is enough to sweeten 1,280 cups of tea, make 80 batches of the fabulously delicious Spanish sweet called turrón, or 160 batches of baklava.
Alberto and Macarena, November 5, 2011 (AC press room)
Alberto Contador - winner of three Tours, two Giros and a Vuelta - has taken the most important trophy of his life today in a ceremony at Santo Domingo de Silos church in Pinto.
In his home-town church, before the watchful eyes of family members and closest friends, Alberto escorted his lifelong sweetheart Macarena to the altar, where they were married at midday.
Macarena Pescador, 26, and Alberto, who will soon be 29, have been together for more than ten years. They met in Pinto when she was 15 and he was 17, and have never separated.
Macarena has been with Alberto during the best of times and the worst of times. From long before his first post-surgery victory in the 2005 Tour Down Under, through the controversies that the champion has been thrust into by virtue of his fame, Macarena has been the constant support to whom he has dedicated scores of victories.
COPE announced yesterday that the couple had "decided to say "I do' in a simple wedding without many extras, and together with the people who have always supported them." Recalling Macarena's comment, “For such a champion as Alberto, he hasn’t changed his ways, his friendships,” COPE added: "That’s why it’s possible to see that, in this union, he will also be able to remain true to the love of his life."
In marrying this November, Contador has proven true to his character. As a man who puts first things first, who considers family a priority above all else, he will meet all future victories and challenges with the most vital asset a person can have: a loving and supportive spouse.
Congratulations and many happy years to the young couple!
MORE WEDDING PHOTOS
Off to the honeymoon! (AC press room)
EUROSPORT | Philippe Gilbert has shown genuine support for Alberto Contador in a digital chat this week with Eurosport users, where he also commented about his hopes for 2012.
"In the first place, I'd like to say that he's been incredible, as he's had a good year in spite of having to cope mentally with all the problems he's had outside of the race. He's proven that he's a champion.
"Regarding his case in particular, I hope that he can prove his innocence and stay with us in the peloton," said the Belgian cyclist.
"We have an huge generation of riders, plus we gave the public an excellent season, and I want for us to be able to keep doing that, " he said, declaring the cyclist from Pinto one of the mainstays of spectacle in professional cycling today.
Photo: Contador and Gilbert in Stage 4 of the 2011 Tour de France (AFP)
Enjoy the photos of Alberto Contador's latest appearance on Spain's crazy TV show, El Hormiguero!
Fun and games with melons (El Hormiguero)
GO TO PHOTOS
October 18 | Alberto Contador attended the route presentation for the 2012 Tour de France today, referring to the next edition as having "a route that clearly favors the time-trialists."
"I'm in the middle, because it's true that there are other climbers who are worse than I am at defending against the clock.
"It's a route that I'll have to analyze carefully stage by stage, and I'll have to keep close watch on my rivals," said the Saxo Bank-SunGard leader, "mainly the ones who need to take time before the final time trial. Those riders could be compatible with my interests."
About the route, Alberto said that "I don't like it, but I don't dislike it. I miss not having another summit finish that could allow more attacks, but it's clear that the final week will be decisive, with a very hard stage ending at Bagnères-de-Luchon, and then a finish on top of Peyragudes, after climbing the Col de Bales."
(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)
Photo: Alberto Contador greets rival Frank Schleck at the route presentation for Tour de France 2012 (Laurent Cipriani/AP)
October 19 | Outside Online - El Pistolero fights back, by Aaron Gulley
A substantial bio/interview from the online edition of Outside magazine - Don't miss it!
October 3 | Bicycling Magazine - A Conversation with Alberto Contador, by James Startt
This is the most significant work in English about Contador to come out in many a long month. With lovely photos of the champion at home in Pinto, this article is a must read.
Alberto Contador displays his magnificent Giro 2011 trophy at the presentation of the 2012 route (Giro d'Italia)
October 16 | Alberto Contador attended the route presentation for Giro d'Italia 2012 today in Milan, where he met Michele Scarponi and Vincenzo Nibali, his pals from the final podium of the last Giro, as well as other colleagues. "It's been an opportunity to meet up again with good friends," he said.
The leader of Saxo Bank-SunGard acknowledged that the next edition's route "would go well for me, and if the heart were my only guide, I'd like to come back and ride it," he said, although he added that his 2012 schedule doesn't include this race. "Next year, I'm going to think about other, different goals, like the Tour de France. Even though you can never say never, next year I won't be around here."
Contador also remarked about his pleasure in returning to Italy, since he feels that this country "is like home. The great feeling that the Italian fans have left me with in my two Giros is why I want to come back to Italy next year and ride Tirreno-Adriatico, a race that I don't have in my palmares."
Alberto said that the 2012 Giro is, "as always, lovely, but not as extremely difficult as last year. The first two weeks are more tolerable, but with nervous finishes which, together with the bonifications, will make it necessary for the favorites to be on their toes constantly. The third week is the most decisive due to the mountains, but people will also have to pay attention to the fact that the first rest day will come very early, which leaves a big central block that will take its toll on the peloton."
Contador also highlighted the next edition's departure in Denmark. "It will be spectacular. Denmark has made a big effort to bring it about and people will be surprised to discover what a huge passion they have for cycling in that country."
(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)
Three-time Tour champion Alberto Contador answered 30 questions from fans in an online chat at El Mundo on Friday, September 30. Here are the first ten.
Who would you rather have dinner with, if you could only choose one: Rafa Nadal, Fernando Alonso, Pau Gasol or Iker Casillas? Bon appetite.
Rafa Nada. I've already been lucky enough to have dinner with him. But any of those you named would be good company.
I have a group of friends that I ride bikes with on the weekends and this summer we've debated quite a bit about whether Andy Schleck could ever win the Tour. I think that he'll never manage it because he fails in the time trials. How does it seem to you?
He's a fantastic rider, and of course he could win the Tour. His performance in the time trial greatly limits his chances for victory.
Pat McQuaid says that an anti-doping culture now exists in cycling, implying that riders are now doping less. Do you agree with this theory?
I think that that has changed, but not this year. The last five or six years have seen a big change in the mindset of the riders. It has improved a great deal, of course.
What do you think of Juanjo Cobo's victory? Do you see him fighting for a good GC place in the next Tour?
The victory was spectacular. His quality was already known. This year has brought the maturity of getting a victory in a grand tour. We'll have to see what he's capable of. It's difficult to predict.
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, have you already considered your race calendar for before the Tour? Will the main objective be the Tour-Vuelta a España double?
The number one objective will be the Tour de France. At the beginning of the season will be races like Tirreno-Adriatico, Catalunya and Basque Country. Then I'll do the Dauphine and the Tour de France. We'll have to see about the Vuelta, but there's a chance.
Do you feel truly valued by the Spanish fans? and do you think that the Spanish press have treated you well concerning the doping topic?
Yes, I feel very valued due to the caring that you all show me. And I think that there are media who have not treated me the same way that I've treated them.
What other sports do you like to play? As for cycling, who has been your reference in reaching the top?
I like jai alai, karts, pocket bikes and all of them at any given time. My brother has been my reference.
Do you think that you're the best Spanish cyclist of all time?
No. Very few people could ever come close to what Miguel has achieved.
Road cycling is one of the most beautiful sports, although it's also unfortunately very dangerous due to increased traffic and the condition of the Spanish roads (In their design, neither before nor now have they taken the bicycle into account.) What do you think should be done in this regard to ensure that in the future we still have champions in this country? It's getting more and more difficult.
It's always been like that and great champions have always emerged. It's true that there are better places for avoiding traffic, but the important thing, both for drivers and people who ride bikes, is always to respect the rules.
Alberto, on Sunday, I climbed El Mediano (9.2% average - for you, a molehill) and I bonked. How is it possible to come up with the courage and strength, after a backbreaking stage, to tackle the next day (which is sometimes worse)?
That's not a molehill for me :-). Think that everybody else has climbed it along with you, and that they're tired, too.
Olympic silver medalist Sergio Paulinho will join Contador at Saxo in 2012 (Kahane)
Team Saxo Bank-SunGard official press release: Paulinho signs with Saxo Bank-SunGard
Strong Portuguese all rounder Sergio Paulinho is joining Saxo Bank-SunGard, bolstering the team for the upcoming seasons.
The 31 year old Grand Tour stage winner and Olympic silver medalist from the Athen Games has agreed to a two year contract with the Danish based World Tour team.
"Sergio is a fantastic signing for our team. He is versatile and a world class support rider. He brings a lot of experience, he knows how to position himself in the peloton and his tactical skills are great. He rides a solid TT and in peak form he is solid in the mountains as well. This combination will definitely be of great use for us, especially in the Grand Tours," team owner Bjarne Riis says.
"At the same time I also see him as a rider that can win races on his own. He was close to winning a stage in this year's Vuelta a Espana, and it speaks for itself, when you have stage victories in both the Tour de France and the Vuelta on your palmares," Riis adds.
Sergio Paulinho joins Saxo Bank-SunGard from American team, RadioShack. Here the Portuguese rider collected the biggest win of his career, stage 10 in the 2010 Tour de France. Before that, Paulinho was a teammate of Alberto Contador at Astana.
"I am really happy and excited about joining Saxo Bank-SunGard. The team has always been a reference point for me personally, and I'm excited to work with Bjarne Riis, a director I've always admired. It's an important step in my career and I'm looking forward to next season already," Sergio Paulinho says.
The sports journal RECORD, of Portugal, reports in a brief notice today that Portuguese rider Sergio Paulinho (RadioShack) has signed a two-year contract with Saxo Bank-SunGard.
Paulinho, who has two Tour de France stage wins to his credit (2009, 2010), plus a Vuelta stage (2006), was the silver medalist in the Olympic road race in Athens in 2004. A teammate of Contador at Liberty Seguros, Discovery Channel and Astana, he has played a key role in many victories by the champion from Pinto.
According to the paper, Paulinho's signing with Bjarne Riis' squad is expected to be announced by the team in the upcoming days.
Photo of Sergio Paulinho by Kahane
September 17 | BBC News - Ban on clenbuterol doping drug may be relaxed, by Matt McGrath, science reporter
BBC MUNDO | Members of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), in a meeting to be held this Saturday, will discuss the possibility of relaxing the absolute prohibition of clenbuterol.
Many athletes use this drug - which was developed for the treatment of asthma - in order to increase musculature.
Some scientists and athletes assert that it is possible to ingest small amounts of clenbuterol inadvertently by eating meat, because many livestock farmers use it to promote growth.
Any change in the rules could force the agency to abandon the case against the winner of last year's Tour de France, Alberto Contador. The case will be analyzed in November.
Contador: "There's nothing about a merger with Astana"
MARCA | by Alberto Benítez | For Saxo Bank, new signings will come, but Froome - who has already announced his renewal with Sky - will not be among them. Neither will the fruit of a hypothetical merger with Astana. The leader of the Danish team, Alberto Contador, has given complete assurance that his team will not be united with the Kazakh squad.
"There's nothing about a possible merger with Astana. I can completely assure you that it's not going to happen," Alberto Contador said to Radio MARCA Friday at an event to mark European Mobility Week. The Madrileño repeated what he has already said on several occasions. "I'm very happy with the team that I have, and I'm fully confident in Bjarne Riis' plans."
Bjarne Riis also asserted immediately after the Vuelta that he is sounding out riders, but patiently. "We have a good team and Contador is happy with us," said the champion of the 1996 Tour. "We are going to reinforce ourselves, but patiently and by using our heads."
Talented young riders
On the Saxo Bank team, there are riders who are ready to make a leap in quality in the 2012 season. Riis has great confidence in "pearls" like Rafael Majka, the 22-year-old Polish climber who has grabbed attention in his first World Tour season. Danish rider Christiansen Mørkøv [sic] (Michael Mørkøv), 26, who missed victory by a whisker in Colorado and came third in his home tour, is also a rider who is on the rise. Another that stands out is Richie Porte. The Australian, who dazzled the world in 2010, wearing the maglia rosa and finishing seventh in the Giro d'Italia at 25, has shown well this year in time trials and Saxo Bank has allowed him to move to Sky.
After listening to Contador and seeing the confidence in the squad that Riis and the Madrileño maintain, it seems that the only merger that will come about in this cycling market is the one that has already been announced: RadioShack-Nissan and Leopard Trek.
EL PERIÓDICO EXTREMADURA | The Grupo Ciclista Barcarrota has announced that Alberto Contador will be present at the second edition of the "Ruta BTT Barcarrota con Alberto Contador," which takes place on September 25.
The three-time Tour de France winner is a beloved figure in the region, where his parents were raised and where he himself spent a good part of his childhood. He has often said in interviews that he began bike racing in Barcarrota.
It is not known at this point if Contador will climb on the bike and do a lap with his paisanos and other Extremadura specialists, or if he will simply take part in the presentations. The season is, in effect, over for him, since he turned down the opportunity to attend the Worlds in Copenhagen from September 21-25.
The II Ruta BTT Barcarrota is a ride of medium difficulty over a 64-kilometer route. Registration information is available until September 22 by contacting email@example.com.
Another marquee participant at the II Ruta Barcarrota will be mountain bike star and current champion of Extremadura, Alejandro Díaz de la Peña.
BICICICLISMO | Alberto Contador followed the last stage of the Vuelta a España in person, and the Madrileño once again pointed out that there's a good chance that he will be at the start line of the Spanish grand tour next year.
"I can say that it's been a good Vuelta, because I've watched tons of stages, some 15 of them, if not more! My favorite was the Angliru, because I won there in 2008 and it brings back great memories. My team, Saxo Bank-SunGard, has done a great job during these three weeks. We didn't have a big GC man, but Chris Anker Sørensen has ridden very well, at a very high level. I enjoyed seeing Juan José Haedo win in Haro; he deserved it. The atmosphere in Madrid is great. I hope to be able to ride the Vuelta next year."
SPN.DK | Alberto Contador is ready to extend his project with Bjarne Riis and Saxo Bank-SunGard.
At the end of 2012, Alberto Contador will be able to put Bjarne Riis' cycling team, Saxo Bank-SunGard, behind him, since the Spaniard's contract expires then.
But that’s unlikely, despite the disappointing fifth place in the Tour de France and the Spaniard's doping case, which is expected to be settled in November. Not if it's up to Alberto Contador.
"I'm very happy to be on the team. I believe in the future, and I'd like to stay, if Bjarne wants me," he tells Jyllands-Posten with a wry smile. "I took what was the best option for me last year. It is very important for me to work together with Bjarne. "
Opportunity for improvement
Bjarne Riis is also sympathetic. He makes it understood that 2011 is just the beginning. "This has been a very instructive year. We must get to know each other, and I've spent a lot of time analyzing him. In addition to the potential he obviously has, I see room for improvement," says Riis about his 28-year-old star.
The big question mark
"The next four or five years are when he'll be physically the strongest. It's from 28 to 33 that he should have his best years. "
And the huge question that constantly follows Alberto Contador – the doping case against him that has been going on since autumn last year and still could cost up to a two-year suspension - is a calculated risk, says Bjarne Riis.
"We know that the case has to be closed. We can’t help but hope for the best. Those are the odds we're up against. We've chosen to have him on our team, and the case also comes along with him. We just need to stay focused on the sport," he says.
And they do. They both look forward to the coming season, as they are already busy planning. A season where the Giro d'Italia definitely will not be a part of the program for Alberto Contador, who won the race this year.
Eyes on three races
The Italian race was a contributing factor in Alberto Contador's inability to dominate in the Tour, as he usually does. Instead, the Spaniard will try to win both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España in 2012, plus Tirreno-Adriatico in the early part of the season.
"I think that it's possible. If the routes are good for me, with prologues and longer time trials, it can be done," says Contador, whose 2011 season ended early, in mid-August.
"I'm tired now. Not only my body, but also mentally. I need to get myself rested if I want to get back to the highest level. There are many things that have made it difficult for me," he says, referring to the doping case. "But I think I've gotten stronger after this Tour de France. Mentally stronger."
Photo of Alberto Contador by Nanne Kreutzmann
MARCA - Alberto Contador sees Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali as the top favorite to win the Vuelta because he thinks that Briton Bradley Wiggins, current leader, will give up time in the mountain stages that are coming up soon.
"I see this as a very even Vuelta, but the favorites are going to have to move. "Purito" Rodríguez has to try, but the one I see as having the most options is Nibali because I think that Wiggins is going to give up time in the mountains," said Contador in Sarria, where he visited the Vuelta participants.
"Nibali is the one who has the most options. In the last Giro, he climbed the Zoncolan with me and was amazing, and it's going to be difficult to take time on him," he insisted. "The most dangerous person for Nibali could be himself," he said. "If he maintains his level, he's well on his way. He's a very solid rider, consistent, and he already has the experience of having won the Vuelta."
"On the Angliru, you usually don't get big time gaps, but if anyone has a bad day, he could lose everything. They can't fail. It could be a good stage for Joaquím Rodríguez," he indicated.
In comparing the Angliru and the Zoncolan, Contador pointed out similarities, saying that "both have similar slopes, but the Asturian climb is less constant than the Italian one."
"The Zoncolan is worse because it gives you no respite. The Angliru, however, has a bit of a let-up that enables you to break the rhythm," he added.
The three-time Tour de France winner was also the last rider to prevail at the top of the Angliru, in 2008. "It's a good memory. We approached it full gas and there was a great battle. I wanted to win, because putting your name on its peak is very important. I took 43 seconds out of Leipheimer, which came in very handy for winning the Vuelta," said Contador.
About the role of the Spanish riders, Contador said that so far they're doing a good race, especially "Purito" Rodríguez and his teammate Dani Moreno. Contador was sorry not to see either of them fighting directly for first place, "but there's still a lot of Vuelta left."
Concerning his plans for the future, Contador indicated that he's still training as normal in spite of not having any competitions, and that they're already "thinking about next year," when he will focus on the Tour de France. About his possible participation in the 2012 Vuelta, he said that it "will depend on the fatigue accumulated during the whole season."
Photo: Alberto's companions in the VIP car today were Abraham Olano, left, and Rafael Diaz Justo, right (@albertocontador)
CAS | Thursday, August 26 | In the arbitration between the International Cycling Union (UCI) & World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and Alberto Contador & the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has fixed the hearing dates on 21-24 November 2011.
Contador's jersey, Delgado's helmet on the auction block
The Friends of Culture of Madrigal are auctioning a jersey donated by Alberto Contador last April to raise money to restore the ailing structure of the church of Santa María del Castillo.
Contador offered the jersey when he visited Madrigal de las Altas Torres for the start of Stage 5 of the 2011 edition of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. The Saxo Bank-SunGard rider is a multi-winner of Castilla y León, but had to be content this year with only a win in the Zamora time trial, since the overall triumph went to Xavier Tondo.
The auction will include a helmet donated by retired cyclist Pedro Delgado, winner of the 1988 Tour de France and now a commentator for RTVE, who also attended Stage 5.
Proceeds from the auction will be used to speed along the restoration of the Church of Santa María del Castillo, which has serious structural problems.
Bids can be placed at eBay. Bidding ends at 12:00:19 (CET) on August 30, 2011.
The Chuch of Santa María del Castillo is one of three main components in the vast architectural landmark of Madrigal de las Altas Torres. Together with the church of San Nicolás de Bari (the town's patron saint) and the city walls themselves, Santa María rises commandingly above a number of other historically important buildings in various states of repair.
It is suggested that "Altas Torres" (high towers) actually derives from albas torres, or white towers, a description that highlights the contrast between the sun-bleached monuments - which can be seen for miles - and the colors of the surrounding landscape.
Santa María del Castillo was constructed over a span of years in the 12th and 13th centuries. It is built of brick (there is no local quarry) in the Romanesque-Gothic Mudejar style, a composite of European and Moorish styles of the middle ages. The orginal structure was even more imposing than the surviving one, having had a total of three naves. Extensive renovation in the 18th century left only one nave with two of the ancient apses, now badly in need of restoration.
Photos: upper - Contador poses before the belltower of San Nicolás de Bari (Avila Digital); lower - One of the apses (Viajes con Encanto)
The Church of Santa María del Castillo (jevy)
Radio Maspalomas | Alberto Contador is wrapping up a few well-earned days of holiday with his family on Gran Canaria. The winner of three Tours, two Giros, a Vuelta and a lot of other things enjoyed a few days resting at Playa del Inglés, as well as fishing and playing sports.
Radio Maspalomas spotted the celebrity and speculated that he might have chosen Gran Canaria to do recon for Vuelta 2012, which could visit the island as one of the later stages.
But really, if you'd just ridden the Giro and the Tour back to back, is that what you'd be doing on Gran Canaria?
EFE | Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador today defended his team, the Danish group Saxo Bank-SunGard, from criticisms regarding their work in the last Tour de France, and says that he is satisfied with their performance in the race, in which he finished fifth.
"After the Tour I read in the papers that the team wasn't good enough, but I don't understand it. The team works hard and always gives one hundred percent for me. I'm very happy with their performance in the Tour, there's no need to say it again," Contador said at a press conference in Herning.
Contador will participate today, Friday, in a street race in the town in West Denmark, the hometown of his team's boss, Bjarne Riis, the winner of the 1996 Tour.
In spite of having won this year's Giro d'Italia, Contador has already announced that he will not defend his title in the Italian race in 2012. He reiterated his position today.
"When I participate in a race, it's hard for me not to ride to win. That's why it's best that I train next year without doing the Giro," Contador, 28, stated, insisting that there will be only one objective for the upcoming season, "winning the Tour."
Riis summarized his first season with Contador, who has another year of contract with the Danish team, as "very instructive," since he has done ample analysis and both have spoken about the things that they have to improve in a race in which the three-time Tour winner still has many successes left to reap.
"The next four or five years should be Alberto's best, therefore you haven't seen the best of him yet," Riis said.
Photo of Contador at Gouden Pijl by Keikko.nl
Saxo Bank-SunGard | There's a unique opportunity for the fans to meet, greet and to receive an autograph from Saxo Bank-SunGard's three time Tour de France winner. Alberto Contador when he visits Denmark Friday 12th of August. This year's Giro-winner will be in Brørup Sparekasse (Vejlevej 24) Friday 12th from 1:45-2.45 pm.
From there, the Spanish stage race specialist will go to Herning to meet his fans there and sign autographs from 3.45- 4:30 pm before he participates in the criterium in Herning same evening.
Alberto is the town topic in Pinto (Adrian Julian)
Residents of Alberto Contador’s hometown, Pinto, packed into Francisco Rabal Theater last Wednesday night to toast their hometown hero upon his return from the Tour de France. Contador, one of only four three-time winners of the Tour—with Philippe Thys, Louison Bobet and Greg LeMond—finished the 2011 edition in fifth place, coming home without the overall title for the first time since his 2007 debut in the maillot jaune.
Contador said that he was happy even without the win, and thanked the crowd of 500 for their support at crucial times during the Tour, like in the tough Galibier stage and when he was suffering from the effects of several crashes. He acknowledged to his friends and neighbors that after his mother alerted him of the town’s plan to watch the final three stages together on a giant screen, he found special motivation in “knowing that so many people were watching.”
Contador took the opportunity at the tribute to relay via Spanish newswire EFE that it’s too soon to think about riding to win the Worlds, and dispelled any doubts about his plans for Le Grand Boucle next year by saying, “I’ll prepare one hundred percent to fight for victory in the Tour de France.”
The winner of the 2011 Giro d’Italia also revealed that he still considers that “it is possible to win the Giro and Tour in the same year” with a fortified team. His view that having a team with the depth required to fill out multiple winning grand-tour rosters “makes many things easier for you” resonates with Saxo Bank-SunGard team owner Bjarne Riis, as well as with Lars Seier Christiansen, the CEO of the team’s title sponsor, global investment bank Saxo Bank. Christiansen has announced that an additional sum of money could be made available to allow signing more riders to strengthen future Tour de France bids.
“If there is a need for it, we have a clause that allows us to come up with an extra sum of money if Bjarne finds the right rider to strengthen the team,” Christiansen informed Danish paper sporten.dk in early July, adding that making a bigger commitment to a winning squad is “consistent with the values that the company Saxo Bank represents.” According to Riis, any such funds would be used to hire riders for the Tour.
Alberto Contador also commented Wednesday night about the key role of a suitable route in achieving overall victory at the Tour, saying that this year’s parcours was not a perfect match for his characteristics.
“It’s necessary to have stages that are favorable for you, either with a prologue, an uphill time trial, or two time trials--but no team time trial if you don’t have a powerful team. With details like these and a good preparation program, it is possible to win the Giro and the Tour in the same season,” he said.
After a season’s tally of wins that includes a stage win at Castilla y León, two stages and the overall at Murcia, a stage and the overall at the centennial edition of Catalunya, plus two stages and the overall title at the Giro d’Italia—his sixth career grand tour win—Contador said that he leaves the Tour with a “a very good feeling” and is happy with his result, in spite of not winning.
“I did what I could after that bad day and being aware that it wasn’t my best year in terms of preparation. The truth is that I’m very happy,” he stressed.
The triple crown winner has decided not to ride the upcoming Vuelta a España, the starting date of which has been moved one week earlier this year, thus beginning on August 20, less than a month from the end of the Tour de France. He also considers that the timing is not right for participating in the Worlds this year.
“It’s too soon to think about competing for the World Championship. Its route is too flat and it’s not auspicious enough for me to prepare for it. Being in Denmark and my team being Danish, that helps. But the route being what it is, it’s not in my plans,” he said.
About the postponement of his CAS hearing, Contador said, “It’s a shame and it’s sad that a year later it’s still like this. It needs to have been clarified already, and so much delay is not standard, but I hope that everything turns out well and it all comes to an end.”
The four three-time Tour de France winners:
Philippe Thys (1913, 1914, 1920), Louison Bobet (1953, 1954, 1955), Greg LeMond (1986, 1989, 1990), Alberto Contador (2007, 2009, 2010)
CAS | Lausanne, 26 July 2011 | In the arbitration between the International Cycling Union (UCI) & World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and Alberto Contador & the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has allowed a request for a second exchange of written submissions between the parties as well as for a new procedural calendar. Such request was formulated by WADA with the unanimous agreement of the three other parties.
As a consequence of the parties’ request, the hearing which was scheduled for 1, 2 and 3 August 2011 is cancelled and will be rescheduled for new dates, probably in November 2011.
The second round of written submissions will allow the parties to complete their evidence and arguments relating to some specific scientific issues.
At the end of March 2011, the UCI and WADA filed appeals at the CAS against the decision of the RFEC exonerating Alberto Contador from any sanction following an adverse analytical finding for the substance clenbuterol. The CAS hearing was initially scheduled to be held on 6, 7 and 8 June 2011 but was postponed until 1, 2 and 3 August 2011 at the request of the parties. The new hearing dates will be fixed in the coming days and communicated via the CAS website (www.tas-cas.org).
RTVE | July 25 | Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador has arrived this Monday after having finished fifth in the Tour de France and has said that he will “possibly” ride the Vuelta a España “next year.”
“This year it’s not in my plans, “ said the cyclist, who is only thinking now about “disconnecting” because he’s tired “both at the physical and psychological levels.”
Contador expressed his thanks for the show of affection that he received at Barajas Airport, when dozens of followers chanted support. “The reception that they’ve given me is amazing, they’re really spoiling me,” the cyclist said with a smile, within earshot of his fans.
About the Tour de France which ended yesterday with the famous stage in the Champs Elysées in Paris, the cyclist learned that “you have to weigh the effort at the time of going to one race or the other alike, because in the end, your ability to recovery has its limits and you have to know where that is.”
“I’ve spent a year very loaded with competitions in which I’ve been at the maximum level,” he added. The cyclist, winner of the Tour on three occasions, also said that he wouldn’t trade his participation in the 2011 Giro d’Italia, in which he was victorious, for “any result in the Tour.”
Alberto Contador returns to competition tomorrow after just over three week of R&R following his victory in the Giro d’Italia. The leader of Saxo Bank-SunGard will take the start in both Spanish Championship races, starting with tomorrow’s time trial, followed by the road race on Sunday where he’ll be accompanied by the rest of his team’s Spanish riders: Dani Navarro, Benjamín Noval and Jesús Hernández.
These two tests will be Alberto Contador’s only contact with competition before lining up to start the Tour de France on July 2, and hence take on extra significance. “Everybody likes to ride these races and to try to win, plus it works out especially well for me as Tour preparation after not having competed since the Giro,” commented Alberto. “This will allow me to get into competition rhythm in the road race and, in the crono, to do a test that’s quite a bit like the final TT of the Tour, which is very similar to this route.”
What are your options in the time trial?
In the time trial, I’m going to go full gas and we’ll see what the result is. I’ve gone a month without competing, I’ve rested a lot and I’m sure that I’ll notice the pace of competition compared to the people that went to the Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse, but I hope to play a good role.
How about the routes of the two races?
The time trial is quite reminiscent of the one in the Tour, which I had a look at a few days ago with my teammates in Grenoble. There are some 500 or 600 vertical meters in just over 40 kilometers and it’s a good route for me. As for the road race, it’s not suited to my characteristics, instead it’s more for fast riders through more or less mid-mountains. The goal will be to hit competition rhythm and chalk up a few miles.
TIME TRIAL PROFILE - ROAD RACE PROFILE
How important are these championships for finalizing Tour preparation?
It’s not crucial, but it always helps to do a test at full gas like the time trial, thinking that on the second day we do have the team time trial and so it gets you used to the position of the bike. Also, it’s a good idea to get back into the swing of things after so much time since the Giro.
How do you feel after these three weeks of rest?
As time goes by, little by little you feel more rested, but it’s also an unknown, because what I’ve been doing is resting. The fatigue has been huge and now I weigh every effort carefully. I’m starting to feel caught up on rest now, but I’ve got this unknown factor of how I’m going to respond.
Will you be lacking anything in the Tour compared to the people who didn’t ride the Giro?
Absolutely—freshness, not just physically, but also mentally.
How do you see the team that’s accompanying you to the Tour?
Very well. I’m very happy with the Tour de France team. It’s a very balanced group, with four riders with power for the flats and another four climbers who are going to support me, who are very motivated and who are going to give one hundred percent.
Also, you’ve just found out that the main sponsor has renewed, is that a boost to your peace of mind and morale?
News like that is always good, above all with a sponsor like Saxo Bank, who’ve been associated with cycling for many years. They’re a serious sponsor, one of the ones that clearly support cycling and that’s why it’s great news that transmits calm to the whole team, the whole staff.
OFFICIAL JERSEY, 2011 SPANISH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
June 19 | The Australian - Saxo Bank gives Baden Cooke another shot at the Tour de France, by Rupert Guinness
The Australian says that Cooke and Porte will go to the Tour, but the team have not yet made an official announcement.
June 18 | Sidney Morning Herald - King Alberto ready to defend his crown and rule France again, by Rupert Guinness
Comments by Saxo Bank-SunGard director, Bradley McGee, who will direct Contador at the Spanish Nationals: "Asked how Contador is handling the whirlwind of debate over whether he should race the Tour or not, and speculation over his future, McGee told The Sun-Herald: 'He is aware … He is very smart and considers things from all angles. And he knows that the only way that he can show himself and prove himself innocent in the whole debacle is to continue to ride and show the world how good a bike rider and a person he is.
"'Any black or negativity thrown at him, he just puts it in his back pocket as more energy and fuel to go forward and faster and be better.'"
June 17 | Sidney Morning Herald - Richie Porte hurting after Giro d'Italia but still aches for tour de France glory, by Rupert Guinness
Richie Porte says Contador's Saxo recon crew will head to the Pyrenees today to scout out Tour de France Stage 12 to Luz Ardiden
Porte cited Tuesday's reconnaissance of the 200.5km 18th stage from Pinerolo to Galibier-Serre Chevalier as evidence. ''Sometimes he goes 'a bloc' [full pace] and other times he would sit with us,'' he said. ''Up the Galibier, he was going. We did the climb behind the car, most of it. It was pretty full on.
''He is a great champion. It's an honour to ride for him. It really is.''
June 16 | VeloNews - Lionel Marie on Contador: 'Riis knows Schleck's 'tell', by Andrew Hood
“Riis knows Andy Schleck better than anyone. When Andy has a bad moment, Riis will notice it faster than anyone. Everyone has a ‘tell sign,’ something small that only the sport directors from the teams know. Some riders are very good at covering it up, but whether it’s a small thing, how they sit on the bike or how they’re holding the handle bars or a look on their face. Riis will know when Andy is not going well.”
June 15 | Cyclingnews - Police interrupt Contador's Tour de France
Alberto was pulled over in while training for not having lights on his bicycle while riding through tunnels on moutain roads. (He received a subsequent apology call.)
June 14 | VeloNews - Sean Yates on Contador: "You cannot see anyone beating him", by Andrew Hood
Yates is full of insights and praise for Contador: “Every time you get a success, it builds your confidence. He’s shows he’s very intelligent, not only with the bike game, but also with the media and with the bunch."
"He’s always in the right place. You never see him at the back. He’s surrounded by a lot of respect, and that does make life easier. It’s normal, because you don’t come up and knock Contador off the wheel. He’s given a lot of space, so it makes it a lot easier, but you still got to be there. His team is totally dedicated to him. There is no question that the team is there for him.”
LA VOZ DE ASTURIAS | Pelayo G. Llanes | Dani Navarro is back in Asturias after accompanying his captain, Alberto Contador, to the Alps for reconnaissance of the final stages of the upcoming Tour de France, where he will be, once again, support for the Pinteño in the mountains.
His impression is that the winner of the Giro is “splendid, training and racing is going well.
The Saxo Bank cyclist from Gijón, after participating in the Valgrande Pajares Challenge, was with his team for several days reconning the alpine stages of the Tour, the ones from the final week. To Navarro, the most decisive of these is the one that ends on the mythic peak of Alpe d’Huez.
“We have to go up the Galibier, which is a very tough climb due to its length and to the altitude at the summit, and that leaves the Alpe d’Huez—the hardest stage of the three we were looking at,” commented Contador’s lieutenant. He also said that it’s “short and the last mountain stage of the race,” so it bodes well for an “active and spectacular” stage.
Navarro sees Stage 17, with its finish in Pinerolo, as more straight-forward, with only complications on “the descents,” and indicates that the following day will be very hard, with climbs of the Col Angel, Izoard and Galibier Serre-Chevalier, where the stage concludes with “three ascents that cover 2,000 vertical meters. Besides, the accumulated days of competition are going to leave a mark.”
Support in the mountains
His intention is to get through the first week of the race as easily as possible in order to get to his territory, “the mountains.” The seoncd day is the team time trial, which is not a great worry to Navarro because “if I come unhitched, nothing happens,” he commented.
Yesterday, he admitted being tired after the days spent in the Alps eariler this week since they slept “at altitude, and the body doesn’t recover the same.” He consideres his performance in the next Tour de France a bit of an “unknown” because it’s the first time for him to tackle the Tour after having ridden the Giro and he expects “to be rested and to do well in the mountains, which is my turf.”
He trained on those days with Alberto Contador, whom he sees as “very well, very motivated and rested from the Giro and very eager to do well.” As prinicipal rivals for the Tour, which begins on July 2, he pointed to “Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans and Samu, who’s sure to be in front and I expect he might be able to make the podium,” commented the rider from Gijón.
The next date on his calendar will be next weekend, when he’ll ride the Spanish Championships in Castellón along with Asturian Benjamín Noval, Alberto Contador and Jesús Hernández. “I’ve gone almost a month without competing and it fits in perfectly before the Tour,” assured the Saxo Bank rider.
Above: Tour Stages 17, 18 and 19; Photo of Dani Navarro by Alex Piña
Contador led 500 participants in his cicloturista ride on Saturday, June 11 (AS.com)
Six-time grand tour winner will ride this Tour in a new and different way
EL PAÍS | Daniel Castresana | The time for doubts is over. The reigning champion of the Giro d’Italia, Alberto Contador, has confirmed that he will ride the Tour de France, where he will try to win his fourth crown. ”Yes, yes, I will go to the Tour de France,” he said after finishing the I Marcha Alberto Contador, held in Pinto and surroundings in his honor.
“I know that it’s a difficult challenge. Yesterday I did a test, and it wasn’t the best result I’ve ever had, which is something that can motivate you even more,” he explained, “but I’m aware that there’s still time left.”
After the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) postponed the final date for ruling on Alberto Contador’s positive for clenbuterol until early August (during the August 1-3 timeframe), the world has been waiting for confirmation by the cyclist of what he’s going to do.
Contador explained that he made the decision personally, after having consulted the director of Saxo Bank, Bjarne Riis, and taken into account the importance that it has for his sponsors. “It’s a challenge. Because of that, I’ve pondered it carefully—I’ve been talking with the team. It’s been a decision that I’ve made together with Bjarne Riis,” he said. “There’s no doubt that it’s essential for the team that I be there, and for the sponsors, and the number of people that support you also has an influence.”
“For me, it would be simpler to prepare for the Vuelta a España,” he added, “I’ve got more time, it would allow me to recover better, but you have to be aware that the Tour is the best race, where the best riders will be and I’m motivated by that. Always be aware that it’s been almost 15 years since anyone has been capable of winning the Giro and the Tour in the same year. I’m going to go to do the best I possibly can, and we’ll see what the result is.”
Contador has been upfront that the Giro has heavily tapped his strength and that the best preparation for the Tour will be trying to rest as much as possible: “From here to the start line, my foundation mainly is going to be rest. I’d rather actually lose form, and above all arrive rested. I’m telling it straight, and people that were at the Giro can vouch for how difficult it has been.”
Contador clarified that under these circumstances he’s going to tackle the Tour in a different way than he has in the past, since the season has been more than saved by what has been achieved so far. “I couldn’t ask for anything better and the Giro has left me with an incredible feeling.” “I’m going to leave for the Tour enthusiastically and to try to fight for victory, but without forgetting what the legs can bear,” he said.
Last of all, he acknowledged that he’s been “studying the route a little” and that the final week could “get long.” Furthermore, he referred to the riders who will be his principal rivals, the brothers Andy and Frank Schleck of Leopard Trek, who have organized their season with an assault on the French race in mind.
“They’re doing a very good preparation, in California they had a high level, Frank rode well in the classics and in the Criterium Internacional. And not just them, but also the powerful team that they have. Undoubtedly, they’ll be the riders to watch,” Contador said.
Douwe de Boer talks to the Dutch NOS News, transcript
June 10 | NOS - Douwe de Boer: "Clenbuterol was always used as an anti-asthma drug, except that, then, it is used in large doses. Football players could also use it to lose weight, specifically to lose fat. But it is not known how much you need to use for that."
NOS: How can you get clenbuterol?
DdB: You can take it in as a medication, but in addition to that, you can ingest it through food. Food that is treated with clenbuterol.
And that occurs often in Mexico?
Mexico is known to treat its beef with clenbuterol, so then if you eat that, you can ingest it without knowing.
How does clenbuterol get into Mexican meat?
The Mexicans—and not just the Mexican farmers—if they treat their cattle with clenbuterol, they can get more money for it, because the animals are then heavier, and the farmers get paid for each cow per kilo, and then they earn more.
And that happens relatively frequently in Mexico?
Especially in Mexico and China, that happens often.
And there’ve been similar cases in the past?
Yes, and in the recent past. The Netherlands, of course, knows mountain biker Rudi van Houts. Rudi van Houts was riding in Mexico, and came back to the Netherlands, and then underwent a control, and had a positive for clenbuterol. Except he was exhonerated because it was a small amount of clenbuterol and he had been in Mexico. That was enough to make it very likely that it came from treated meat.
And this has happened with other athletes?
Yes, there's a Danish cyclist that has been recently exhonerated and a German table tennis player. The table tennis player had been in China. And then there are a few more athletes. And, of course, you have the famous cyclist Contador, though he had not been in either China or Mexico.
The fact that all those athletes were exhonerated seems positive for the football players.
That’s the expectation, but it depends on the amount of clenbuterol found in their urine, but that the football players will be exhonerated.
What does it mean that it was five members of the team?
It means that the chances that they got it at a team dinner are greater, and then the chances that they'll be exhonerated are also greater.
Can you know exactly where it came from?
No, you can't absolutely know precisely where it came from. The only thing that is important is the amount of clenbuterol that is found. If you got it from meat, then you find small amounts of clenbuterol in the urine. If it’s large amounts of clenbuterol, then it can't come from meat.
What do you think is going to happen now?
I think, I suspect, that the amount of clenbuterol found in the urine is going to be small, and that they will be exonerated.
THE SPANISH CYCLING FEDERATION has released the official routes for the 2011 Spanish National Championships, which will be held in Castellón from Thursday, June 23 to Sunday, June 26.
The Spanish nationals are made up of eight separate events that include tests in time trial and road race disciplines for elite men, women and sub-23 riders.
Alberto Contador has not announced an intention to ride the Spanish nationals. However, his team boss, Bjarne Riis, has suggested that the one exception the 2011 Giro d'Italia champion might make to his June no-racing rule is to participate in the nationals.
"The only thing that maybe he should ride is the national championships in Spain. I would basically like to see him ride both the road race and the time trial, but we will see about that a little later," Riis said earlier this week, as reported by the Danish paper Ekstra Bladet.
Contador won the Spanish National Time Trial Championship in 2009, which put him in Spanish colors during the Monaco prologue of the 2009 Tour de France, as well as in the team time trial and in the sensational Stage 18 win at Annecy over Fabian Cancellara.
This year's 44.5-kilometer championship time trial for elite men takes place on Friday afternoon, June 24, departing from the Coves de Sant Josep and tackling climbs at the Puerto del Marianet, Azuébar and Soneja before ending at Vall d’Uixo. Start time is 17:30.
The queen stage of the 2011 Spanish Nationals, the elite men’s road race, takes place on Sunday afternoon, June 26, over 196.7 rugged kilometers, a shorter contest than usual but fully justified by the nature of the route.
The men’s road race will start at the Castellón airport and arrive at Castellón de La Plana after three times around a loop and over a climb at the Desierto de Las Palmas. The timetable for the men’s road race is not yet nailed down, since the schedule will depend on live television coverage by Teledeporte, which will also offer highlights of Friday’s time trial.
PROFILE, 2011 SPANISH NATIONAL TIME TRIAL CHAMPIONSHIP
PROFILE, 2011 SPANISH NATIONAL ROAD RACE CHAMPIONSHIP
OFFICIAL JERSEY, 2011 SPANISH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
June 2 | PezCycling News - Saxo Bank's Michael Mørkøv Talks Giro 2011, by Edmond Hood
In this substantial interview, Pez talks to the strong Dane who helped pedal Alberto Contador to glory in the Giro last month. Topics covered by Mørkøv are the champion, Bjarne Riis, team strategy and more. With photos.
PEZ: Was the team game plan ‘all for Alberto?’
MM: Yes, but there were a couple of occasions where we had Jesus Hernandez in the break but he doesn’t think about winning in that situation; he’s so motivated to work for Alberto that he doesn’t really consider his own ambitions.
All riders want their own chance to win, but when you are teammate of someone like Alberto who is riding to win the Giro then that’s a special feeling.
PEZ: Bjarne is much more ‘hands on’ this year?
MM: For sure he’s more involved with the riders, and we’re all getting to know and understand him much better.
His motivation is amazing, he’s been running a team for ten years but he’s still so keen and enthusiastic – even when it’s a flat sprinter’s stage he has notes in the race bible and has a plan for the day which we discuss at the team meeting on the bus.
Photo of Michael Mørkøv from the Tim de Waele free access gallery
Alberto Contador on the air with José Ramón Morena of Cadena Ser (Javier Soriano/AFP)
EUROPA PRESS | Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador still hasn’t decided whether he'll be at the July 2nd start line of the upcoming edition of the Tour de France, in spite of the positive effect of the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) about his alleged doping, which will take place during the first three days of August.
The decision by sport’s highest judicial body to postpone the hearing has allowed the Madrileño to be present at “le Grande Boucle,” even though he has yet to confirm his participation. “The work is already more than done, now I’ve got to recover, but if I go to the Tour it’s to fight for victory,” he said in comments to Cadena Ser.
“If I see that I’m not in good shape, I won’t go to the Tour,” said the Pinteño, aware that he would be facing a complicated race on French soil. “In the Tour, ultimately, there can always be new riders at the start, but right now the one in the best position is Andy Schleck,” he said.
“In the event I go to the Tour, Andy Schleck,” commented the winner of all three grand tours when asked about his main rival. In addition, he gave a very positive evaluation of the Luxembourg team, Leopard Trek. “They have a strong team, but I’ve also got good riders with me and in the case of climbers, I’ve still got all the ones from last year except Tiralongo,” he said.
And the brilliant champion of the Giro d’Italia didn’t want to take away from the importance of his own team. “I’m very happy with my team because they’ve given me unconditional support. I know that I’m going to have a very balanced team (if I go to the Tour),” he insisted.
The maglia rosa obtained recently on Italian soil is the cause for Contador’s delay in confirming his presence in France at the beginning of July. “Ultimately all races are hard, but in the Giro we’ve had extremely long stages. We’ve done around 3,500 kilometers. The work is already more than done, but we have to recover,” he indicated.
“You never know how you’re going to be from one year to the next, but I notice the allergies a lot. But cycling isn’t mathematics. Although I’ve had similar feelings to how I felt in 2009, we’ll have to see if they’re like that this year,” he added.
“I still notice the fatigue. There’s accumulated fatigue that the body resents. Right now it’s more important to rest than to train. I want to feel that my body is away from the bicycle, to recharge my batteries and give my body some turn-around time,” he said.
On the other hand, Contador declined comment about whether he’ll be at the Vuelta a España, and about UCI president Pat McQuaid, although he did venture to send an optimistic message regarding his hypothetical presence at the Worlds.
“Yes, I’m considering the Worlds, as long as doing one is compatible, I’m going to try to take advantage of it. The one that’s going to happen in Spain isn’t bad, and the fact that it’s in Spain is very special. Before my career’s over I’d like to put this race in my palmares,” he said.
“The deaths left an enormous mark on the Giro”
On other topics, Contador, in doing a review of his second Giro victory, recalled the deaths of Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt, who died in competition, as well as that of his countryman Xavi Tondo, who died in a domestic accident.
“It’s been the hardest race I’ve ever ridden. The deaths left an enormous mark on the Giro, from the first week. It was unbelievable, they told me that Weylandt was in very grave condition and it still gives you goose bumps…a very serious blow,” he said.
And about Tondo, he had only good words. “He was a very happy guy and we always got along very well. At the Giro, we went for a walk, had a coffee, and they told me the news and it was a terribly hard blow. It was a feeling of bad luck, that each one of us has his day…” he explained.
Listen to the complete interview in Spanish:
INTERVIEW 1 - INTERVIEW 2
June 2 | Cyclingnews - Light schedule for Contador before Tour de France
Saxo Bank-SunGard manager Riis says performances at the Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse will help define the short list of riders to accompany Contador at the Tour. Contador will do reconnaissance but is not scheduled to compete before Le Grand Depart, except for possibly the Spanish nationals (June 23-26).
May 30 | Sidney Morning Herald - Porte keen to take lessons, not lead, from Contador, by Rupert Guinness
According to Tasmanian Richie Porte, who was invaluable to Contador in the Giro, Contador "is so focused and concentrated on the job. He's the ultimate professional. I have never seen anything like it." Porte also says, "I like riding for the guy, and he is the best. He is still a step above. Whatever opinion of the guy, I think he is still the classiest bike rider going around."
Video: Richie talks to Specialized after the Giro queen stage
June 2 | Nieusblad.be - Nick Nuyens allicht niet naar Tour
Nick Nuyens probably won’t go to this year’s Tour de France. The winner of the Tour of Flanders is a candidate to help Contador, but realizes there’s stiff competition within Saxo Bank.
“I’d like to do it because it’s a unique opportunity to ride for a candidate for the Tour win. I’d also be fully at Contador’s service.
"But I also know that they basically don’t need me. In the mountains, there are better people on the team, on the flat stages, too.”
Nuyens has already talked with manager Bjarne Riis and is currently on the reserve list. But it’s probably better that Saxo Bank use him after the Tour.
“The orginal plan after the spring was for me to concentrate on autumn and the Worlds. That’s probably what will happen.”
(Photos of Richie Porte and Nick Nuyens from Tim de Waele free access gallery)
A magical moment in Milan's Piazza del Duomo (EFE)
Alberto Contador won the 94th Giro d’Italia today in Milan after finishing the Stage 21 ITT in third place, 36” behind stage winner David Millar. He was awarded the Giro’s iconic golden spiral trophy in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo in a ceremony that was, in a word, magical.
For reports, results, interviews, photos, video, audio from the 2011 Giro,
GO TO ALBERTO CONTADOR'S EPIC GIRO D'ITALIA BATTLE
Michael Mørkøv: “I’m pleased to be helping Contador, because I got an excellent impression of him in the Volta ao Algarve, which is the only race I’ve ridden with him.
"He’s an exceptional rider, the perfect captain, but also a sympathic man, and in Portugal at least, I saw that he knew how to appreciate his teammates’ actions in a way that really inspires you to work hard for him.” (Politiken)
Vincenzo Nibali: “Alberto is beyond any doubt the best cyclist in stage races today. He’s determined, always hungry for victory. Physically, I’m ready and focused. It will be a very difficult challenge, but I’m not going to give up. I’m going to give everything I've got to beat him and it will be the race that will put each one in his place. His presence will also be a big motivator: Do you know what it means to win a Giro over Contador?” (Sky.it)
Alberto Contador will be accompanied by Kaspar Klostergaard, Jesús Hernández, Dani Navarro, Michael Mørkøv, Matteo Tosatto, Laurent Didier, Richie Porte and Volodymir Gustov at the start line of the Giro d’Italia, said the Saxo Bank-SunGard team in a press release today.
The new development is the inclusion of Australian Richie Porte. Porte will strengthen Saxo Bank-SunGard’s options in both the team time trial on the first day and in the tough mountain stages that the riders will face in the second and third weeks.
On knowing the final list of riders, Alberto Contador said that “deciding the Giro d’Italia team has been a difficult job because there were a lot of motivated riders who were eager to ride. It’s ended up a very good selection and we’re presenting a strong team, but we’re also aware that we’ll find very strong rivals at the start line, whose indisputable goal is to win the Giro. I’m confident that we’ll play a good role and that we’ll be fighting for the race.”
Alberto will travel to Turin next Wednesday, where the Giro d’Italia will begin with a 19.3-kilometer team time trial on Saturday, May 7.
Official press release, Alberto Contador press room
El País|Carlos Arribas - An Israeli lawyer born in Buenos Aires with strong ties to Spain—who teaches Masters-degree candidates in Madrid—will be the person with the deciding vote in the upcoming trial of Alberto Contador.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has chosen Efraim Barak, 53, to complete and preside over the trio that will decide Contador's future. This has been considered good news by the rider’s entourage and the Spanish Cycling Federation, who together with Contador make up the high-profile party of the accused in the appeal presented by the Union Cyclist Internationale (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the acquittal from an accusation of doping with clenbuterol in the last Tour. The other two members of the jury are the Swiss Quentin Byrne-Sutton (chosen by the UCI) and the German Ulrich Haas (chosen by the party of Contador).
Barak has a law office in Tel Aviv and has arbitrated multiple case in CAS, the majority concerning contract disputes in football and some doping cases, like the one that ended in a two-year sanction for biosimilar EPO by two Russian biathletes.
“He’s not an arbitrator that tends to incline towards the institutions and he's very prone to be driven by the greater good,” indicated various sources, which emphasize his “independence and equilibrium.” In fact, his name was one of those considered by the federation and Contador’s defense team, led by the lawyer Gorka Villar, son of the president of the football federation, at the time of choosing their arbitrator.
In the communiqué announcing Barak’s appointment, CAS added a schedule of activites that will, in theory, allow the proceeding to take place at the beginning of June, and could produce a final decision—a two-year sanction, as appealed by the UCI and WADA; a one-year sanction, as the jury could decide, or rejection of the appeal, as the federation and Contador request—before the beginning of the Tour (July 2).
Prior to that time, from May 7th to 29th, Contador will ride the Giro, starting as the favorite. Last week he explored the climbs that he was not acquainted with.
“We see that schedule as plausible,” indicate sources in the federation, where the statement of charges, scientific and legal arguments of WADA and the UCI have already been received, “because our defense is clear. However, Contador may need more time to complete the scientific investigation that allows him to counter the arguments of the appellants.”
In order to decide whether the federation acted properly in clearing Contador, CAS has the right to try the case again, that is, to decide if the steak explanation—the accidental ingestion of clenbuterol in a piece of contaminated meat—is the only one possible, for which they will admit new evidence. Based on the scientific reports presented mainly by the cyclist, on the study of his biological passport done by the Italian Giuseppe Banfi and on those solicited by the federation itself, the Spanish federation decided, in effect, that only through the tenderloin could the clenbuterol get into Contador’s system.
WADA, however, thinks differently. Those in the organization who supervise the World Anti-Doping Code think that there are more plausible scenarios to explain the clenbuterol in Contador’s urine. If CAS accepts those arguments, Contador would be obligated to prove that the clenbuterol was actually in the meat consumed.
The theory that they have presented before CAS, also based on data from his biological passport, takes into account the hemoglobin and reticulocytes during the Tour, and, as already put forward by sports daily L’Equipe last month, considers that it could be possible that the clenbuterol was present in a plasma bag that the rider could have received on the Tour rest day in order to mask the hemotological values produced by transfusing a bag of blood the day before. The plasma, obtained by centrifuging blood during extraction, theoretically before the Tour, would still have traces of clenbuterol consumed in the previous few days.
GO TO Profile of Efraim Barak
Sporten.tv2.dk - A complete and perfect cyclist. But a person with insecurities who lacks confidence in his surroundings. That was the Alberto Contador who joined Bjarne Riis on January 1.
And so he still is, in part, according to his boss, Bjarne Riis.
“We’ve had moments when he’s been in that mode, that he has to control it all by himself. What we tell him is that he should just relax, because we have everything under control. He’s been used to worrying about too many things himself. And not relying on the people around him,” says Riis.
Hard time with Astana
It’s especially the years with Astana that still mark the Spanish superstar. A period that he says lacked organization, and a period where he was exposed to something resembling harassment from his teammate, Lance Armstrong.
That has changed since he joined Saxo Bank-SunGard, says Contador.
“I couldn’t have picked a better team to work for than Saxo Bank-SunGard. I had a really good impression from the very beginning, and it’s only been confirmed since. It’s been very different from my former tearm. But in a good way,” said the Spaniard.
“2009 was a difficult year for me, when I had to prove many times, purely on my performance results, that I was the leader. And in the Tour, we rode without a clearly defined goal. This is completely different on my new team. In the races where I’m strong, the whole team is working for me. But the biggest advantage with Saxo Bank-SunGard is that it’s so well-organized. Each person has a specific role to play and it makes the chain work really well.”
Asked if he has new friends on the Danish team, Contador responds in the affirmative.
“I have. There’s Mørkøv, for example, with whom I’m going to ride the Giro d’Italia. And there’s Nicki and Chris. My relationship with most of the riders has been very good from the start,” said the Spanish captain.
Bjarne Riis is confident that Contador can get even better, even though he has already won the biggest race in the world. It’s all about confidence and trust.
“What he’s been primarily lacking is having people around him whom he can trust and who support him 100 percent. So he feels it's a safe environment,” said Riis to sporten.tv2.dk.
Lower photo: Riis and Contador at Herning, 2010 (Henning Bagger)
feltet.dk - Saxo Bank-SunGard is riding the Giro to win with Alberto Contador, and riding as domestique will be Michael Mørkøv.
When Saxo Bank-SunGard announced their team on Sunday for this year's Giro, it was with Michael Mørkøv among the nine names, in spite of the fact that he only entered the picture recently.
"I think the Giro is a great race, but last winter—when my program was planned with the team—it was not on it. It’s been changed lately, and I'm doing the Tour de Romandie for preparation, so I look forward to it very much," Mørkøv explains to Feltet.dk.
Michael Mørkøv made his grand tour debut last year, when he participated in and finished the Giro. This time he has had optimal preparation, which has come with an unfortunate backstory. The day before Paris-Roubaix, he crashed in a slick of soapy water in a parking lot and hit his arm. That’s why he was forced to take a short break.
“It actually really worked out well. If I’d known that I was going to ride the Giro, I would’ve probably been a bit stressed about starting up again. Now I’ve been forced to take a week’s break, so that my arm could rest. Since I started training again, I’ve felt very good. So when I’ve gone through Romandie, I should be completely ready for the Giro.
Giro role and the dream
Besides Michael Mørkøv and Alberto Contador, the Saxo Bank-SunGard team for the Giro includes Laurent Didier, Volodymir Gustov, Jesús Hernández, Kasper Klostergaard, Gustav Larsson, Daniel Navarro and Matteo Tosatto. The focus is solely to lead Contador to the overall victory, and here Mørkøv knows his own role well.
“We’re taking a lot of riders to help for the mountains, so it’s not my role to deliver Alberto there. I can deliver a really good effort for the TTT, and I expect to have to work a lot in the front if Alberto takes the leader’s jersey.
“I know it sounds weird to say, but it’s always been my dream to ride for a very good captain. Not since Lance Armstrong has there been as good a stage race rider as Alberto is today, so it will be very special for sure to help and look after him.”
If Alberto rides himself into the pink leader jersey, it won’t be the first time Mørkøv has tried to defend it. He tried that already last year when Richie rode in it. According to Mørkøv, it’s a completely different task that awaits him and his teammates this year.
“It was different with Richie last year when we knew that he couldn’t keep it to Milan. In addition, we were fortunate that both Caisse and Cervelo took on a lot of the work to control the field. When we start with Alberto this year, we risk riding in the front from the first day to the last, if the other teams say that we have the biggest favorite. In addition, we may risk that Alberto takes the Pink jersey early on, and that means hard work at the front. But that is also precisely what I’m good at.”
Not all teams have finalized rosters yet, but Michael Mørkøv can already identify the toughest competitors.
“Scarponi has been riding very strongly this year, so I see him as our biggest challenger. In addition, Nibali. The Giro is a very big goal for him and for his team, so those are the ones we should watch out for.”
Photo of Michael Mørkøv by TDW for Saxo Bank-SunGard
Alberto, with throat protected, trains with Jesús at Huy (AC press room)
75th Flêche Wallonne, April 20: Charleroi – Huy, 201 km
Alberto Contador arrived in Belgium yesterday, along with teammate Jesús Hernández, for one last training session before taking the start tomorrow in La Flêche Wallonne. Contador finished third in this race last year, so the two riders trained over the final 60 kilometers of the route today as a refresher course.
As he always does in Belgium, Alberto praised the country’s zest for cycling, something that’s especially palpable during Ardennes Classics week, and indicated that this was one of his reasons for coming. “These races are amazing because of the fans, the way they turn out. In this country, the cycling culture is a cut above the rest. They live cycling here, just like in Spain you can live football, for example. That’s why I had a special desire to come and ride, in spite of not being altogether healthy.”
Alberto comes to La Flêche after riding Castilla y León last week with a cold, although, he says, “physically I’m fine and it’s a race that I like, but my health isn’t coming along the way I’d like. I was under the weather when I started Castilla y León, and it got a little worse. I thought I’d recover a little quicker than this, but I don’t think I’m going to be tops. If that’s how it is, I’ll try to help my teammates.”
What do you expect to do tomorrow?
I want to do the best I can, but I’ve got the kind of limitation you get when you’re not in great health, and it’s a little complicated fighting for the victory like that.
Last year you were third in this race. Is that why you wanted to come back?
Yes, that’s why I chose only to come to Flêche and not to do Amstel or Liège.
What kind of review do you give this first part of the season, just before starting the Giro d’Italia?
I give it really good marks. Except for in the Algarve, where I went without having trained, in the other races I’ve gotten victories in the mountains and in time trials. I’m very happy, because they’re tests that fit in with the main objective of the year, the Giro d’Italia, so I’m very satisfied with the beginning of the season.
Getting back to La Flêche, who are your favorites for the win?
There are quite a few, but to name some names, there’s Gilbert, Joaquím and Andy, although there are a lot of riders with options.
What did you think of Gilbert’s performance in Amstel?
It was very strong, impressive. They left him with the responsibility and he still got the victory, a sign that he’s in impressive condition.
Would you also have liked to ride Liège?
You always like riding a race like that, with all the history it has, because it’s one of the great competitions in the history of cycling, but the best thing for my Giro tune-up was not to go.
With less than three weeks to go until the start of the Giro d’Italia, do you think you’ll be able to get into good shape?
Yes, once I get over this case of flu I think I’ll be able to get into good shape, because I’ve still got time to recover. I’ll be well-trained when I get there, with a good base of work and high hopes.
Are you anxious to start the Giro?
Absolutely, I’m looking forward to it enormously because it’s a race that brings back great memories from 2008 and arriving at the last moment. I can’t wait to ride it.
(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)
Riding for Team Saxo Bank-SunGard: 21 Alberto Contador, 22 Mads Christiansen, 23 Jesús Hernández, 24 Rafa Majka, 25 Nick Nuyens, 26 Chris Anker Sørensen, 27 Nicki Sørensen, 28 Brian Vandborg
PHOTOS - MAPS AND PROFILES - OFFICIAL RACE WEBSITE
Alberto Contador’s teammate Nick Nuyens, who recently pulled off a spectacular upset victory over Fabian Cancellara at the Tour of Flanders, has shared the secret to Team Saxo Bank-SunGard’s perennial success.
In an interview posted by the team’s bike sponsor, Specialized, Nuyens—now dubbed "The Sniper" for his ability to triumph with tactics over brute strength—followed Q with A.
What do you think makes riders grow and shine when they enter the Saxo Bank-SunGard team and makes them fade when they leave?
“There's a certain atmosphere in this team. There's something magical about being in this team that naturally makes you shine. Everybody's on this team because of their passion in cycling, their loyalty and their willingness to go in new directions and still not compromising the basics - team spirit.
“Bjarne knows that it's the small things that make a difference in the end and he pays attention to everything and to everyone on the team, and that's getting the best out of me. But it's not only Bjarne. It's the spirit of the team. Everyone's easygoing and we're all good at allowing each other space and passing on confidence.
“I'm feeling stronger, fitter and more than confident than ever and I know it's because of the certain magical touch of the team."
EFE - Catalan rider Xavi Tondo (Movistar), one of the favorites to win the queen stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y León, said on Thursday that “trying to beat Alberto Contador” in the general classification is “more than complicated.”
“If we’re realistic, trying to beat a person that I think has won 15 of the last 18 stage races that he’s ridden is more than complicated. It’s just that he’s always good,” he said.
Tondo’s teammate, race leader Fran Ventoso, has won the first two stages of this edition, but the Movistar team realize that Ventoso’s days in the grey leader jersey are numbered.
“He knows and we know that tomorrow is not his day. We’re going to try to shoot for victory anyway, but being realistic, it’s very difficult,” Tondo said.
Photo of Xavi Tondo by Movistar Team
“I’m very focused on the races, I’m not in charge of CAS”
What do you think of the arbitrator chosen by the RFEC and your lawyers?
Nothing. I’m very focused on the races. I try to enjoy them and I’m managing. I’m not in charge of CAS. I’ve got my brother Fran and my lawyers for that.
What are your feelings about the case?
It does no good to worry about it. I can’t do anything that other than try to do the best I possibly can in every competition that I participate in. So I’m very well emotionally. My results are very good and, both in Murcia and Catalunya, I’ve received a lot of support from the people.
Also from Pinto.
Being appointed Favorite Son by my town (on Monday) has really charged my batteries. It’s something to be proud of, being the first to be given this title by the people of the city where I was born, grew up, and still live.
How are you approaching the Vuelta a Castilla y León?
Very eagerly. These last two days I’ve had a bit of a cold, but I don’t expect it to cause problems.
Do you like the route?
It is what it is. As usual, it has a summit finish and a time trial. I know the climb to Laguna de los Peces well. We climbed it before, in 2008 when I was helping Leipheimer. It’s a simple ascent. I don’t think it will cause many time differences.
And the crono at Zamora?
It’s only 11.2 kilometers, most of it on the city streets. It’s not that it’s bad for me, but the advantages won’t be increased here. It’ll be a very tight race.
The roads of Castilla y León beckon again (AC press room)
Alberto Contador is coming “with desire and enthusiasm” to the new edition of the Vuelta a Castilla y León, a race he’s already won on three previous occasions. The seasoned champion has been slightly under the weather, but doesn’t plan to let it spoil the week. As he said this afternoon, “These last two days I’ve had a bit of a cold, but I don’t expect it to cause me too many problems in the race.”
Contador arrived in Valladolid this afternoon, where he’ll take the start in his next race tomorrow. Fresh off of victory in the Volta a Catalunya, he’s ready to roll in spite of what he thinks will be “a difficult race, because the summit finish is not very demanding and it won’t be possible to get a lot of time differences. The time trial is very short, so every rider who gets there with a good time has options on the victory.” Faced with this outlook, Alberto will certainly “try to do my best, with an eye on the Giro, which will happen inside of three weeks.”
(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)
AUDIO COMMENTS (1) - AUDIO COMMENTS (2)
The mayor presents Alberto with a framed certificate proclaiming him Pinto's Favorite Son (AC press room)
Alberto Contador was the toast of Pinto last night as his hometown honored him in a gala celebration at Francisco Rabal Theater. The five-time grand tour winner was officially granted the status of Favorite Son by the city’s mayor, Juan José Martín.
The event fulfills an agreement to adopt Contador as Favorite Son that was struck by the Pinto City Council in a plenary session last October. Last night’s festivites, which included music and dance, culminated with speeches and the award of a framed certificate.
The title hijo predilecto, Favorite Son, has sometimes been confused with that of Honorary Citizen, although the latter is logically an incongruous title for a lifelong resident. Favorite Son resonates with the biblical reference “This is my own dear son, with whom I am well pleased,” and in Contador’s case, it conveys the Pinto citizens’ loyalty and warm regard for the champion, which they’ve demonstrated in numerous public acts of support during the past difficult months.
Contador declined to comment at the celebration about the progress of his case. Instead, he preferred to focus on his successful start to the season and the “very good days on the road” that he’s “enjoying like never before,” as he prepares for his second run for the maglia rosa in next month’s Giro d’Italia (May 7-24).
His approach to Italy's biggest race? “Full throttle,” he said.
The Pinto City Council honored Alberto Contador yesterday with the Punctum Sport Award, which was collected by his brother Fran, since the three-time Tour de France winner is training in Andalucía this week and could not attend the ceremony.
The prize was presented during the city of Pinto’s First Sport Gala. Other local athletes also received awards, as well as nationally-known figures like journalist María Escario and the Spanish Football Federation.
Fran Contador expressed thanks for the award on behalf of his brother, who sent a message of “pride in being ‘Pinteño’ and in being able to make the name of Pinto known around the world.”
(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)
According to Samuel Sánchez, leader of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team and a favorite to win the Tour of the Basque Country, Alberto Contador is the only cyclist in the peloton with the kind of strength that can guarantee fans a spectacular show at the races.
J. Gómez Peña commented in an interview with the Asturian cyclist at El Correo yesterday that González de Galdeano, manager of Euskaltel, considers the reigning Olympic champion as sometimes too calculating in his approach.
Sánchez responded by saying, “It’s just that the cycling of today has changed. Forces are very measured. If you do one pedal stroke too many, there’s always somebody behnd who’s going to take advantage of it.
“The races demand a lot of calculation. The only cyclist who can put on a spectacle and radiate strength is Alberto. That’s why he's won five grand tours. The rest of us aren’t so much up for spectacle. We’re not at his level.”
Gómez Peña continues: “Contador, furthermore, has shown mental fortitude. After eight months of suspension, he comes back and wins.” Sánchez concludes, “It’s admirable. I usually send him messages of encouragement. It’s admirable how he’s gone out to train every day when the easiest thing to do would be to stay home and see how his case is resolved.
“I admire him and he knows it. He’s got guts.”
Samuel Sánchez, hot off victory in the GP Miguel Indurain, continues his assault on the Vuelta al País Vasco in Stage 2 tomorrow, after arriving in second place today in a photo finish with Joaquim Rodriguez, current race leader.
Photo of Samuel Sánchez at GP Indurain by Team Euskaltel-Euskadi
Danish journal Politiken reports today that Alberto Contador, superstar of Danish team Saxo Bank-SunGard, is training this week in Spain's Sierra Nevada.
“Everything is going according to plan with Alberto, and he’s staying at altitude this week in the Sierra Nevada, where he’s working intensely,” says team boss Bjarne Riis.
“Alberto’s calendar items, as it has always been understood, are the Vuelta a Castilla y León, April 13 to 17, and the the Fleche Wallonne (April 20), before he takes the start in the Giro d’Italia, May 7.”
Dani Navarro and Contador, Catalunya Stage 1 (Toni Abrir/EFE)
Noval and Navarro say that their boss expected the appeal
LA NUEVA ESPAÑA - by J.E. Cima - March 31 - Alberto Contador won the Volta a Catalunya and his Asturian gregarios Benjamin Noval and Dani Navarro returned to the Principality very tired from working to protect him in the stages, but happy because the Madrileño already has another prestigious stage race and one from the Pro Tour in his palmarès. Now they’re already thinking about winning another Giro d’Italia.
Saxo Bank’s pair of Asturians are happy. After 10 seasons as a professional, Noval says, “we’re off to a good start, with a nice victory for Alberto in Murcia and this one in the Volta. I had a particularly bad flare-up of an allergy to pollen from a plant called pellitory-of-the-wall, which kept me from performing well, aside from a case of flu. One day I even thought that I wouldn’t be able to finish, but I made an effort and we managed to control the escapes and get the reward of Alberto’s victory.”
Navarro, in his sixth professional season, explains that “we worked very hard to control the escapes because there were no stages with really big mountains, except for the queen stage—which Alberto won. We finished gutted, but happy for the victory.”
Contador’s victory in the queen stage in Andorra against great rivals was decisive. Navarro says that “I always expect the best from Alberto because he’s capable of winning when he’s at only 80% of his top level. He has a lot of class. That day we’d already done a lot of work, and it was because he felt well. He was minus the Volta in his palmarès, and he got it.” Noval wondered at ”the relative ease with which he won on the Andorran climb ahead of Scarponi, who’s in great form. This victory was very important for Alberto, as it was for the team and for the director, Riis. Now he’s going to win the Giro d’Italia.”
During the Catalan race he received the news that the UCI would appeal his acquittal by the Spanish Federation, which yesterday was joined by the appeal by WADA. Noval explains that “like Alberto, I expected it. He was calm and he has confidence in the lawyers on his defense team. Alberto decided that he’ll only talk about the asphalt in order to show that he remains the strongest. He knows how to endure all these problems and we support him completely.”
Navarro says that Alberto “was a little let down, but he reacted well because he has confidence in reaching the end and proving his innocence. Alberto's mentally well-equipped to endure all this. It’s possibly his greatest virtue.”
One of the things that Contador’s teammates appreciate most is the thanks that he gives them for the work they contribute to the team. It’s clear to Noval that he’s “a leader that always supports you and thanks you for the effort you make. We celebrated this victory at dinner with a toast.” Navarro indicated that “he comes up to you right in the middle of the race to tell you that you’re doing a great job, and at the end he congratulates us.”
The next race will be the Vuelta a Castilla y León and then he’ll go to the Giro. Noval says that “Italy is his first big goal and it’ll be to win. Navarro adds that “we’re going to inspect three summit finishes to find out what they’re like. Everybody will be excited about the Italian race because Alberto had planned it a long time ago.”
Benjamin Noval and Contador, Catalunya Stage 1 (Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images)
LA VOZ DE ASTURIAS – by Pelayo G. Llanes - Asturian cyclist Dani Navarro of Saxo Bank is back home in Gijón after helping his boss, Alberto Contador, win the Volta a Catalunya. Navarro returns “feeling good” and notices progress toward his first objective of the year: helping the man from Pinto prevail in the Giro. He is optimistic and thinks that “Caso Contador” will be resolved soon and well.
Although he confesses that he had his ups and downs in Catalunya, he was satisfied and pointed to the stage with the “summit finish at the ski station at Vallnord and the final day” as the days in which he felt the best. In addition, he indicated that he already notices improvement over the first two races he has ridden this year: the Algarve and Murcia.
Navarro was essential in the race’s queen stage, with a finish at Vallnord, where Contador ruled the race, but considers that the Madrileño is still “at 70%,” which he thinks is “bueno, since there’s a month left before the Giro.”
UCI Decision – On Contador’s first day in the leader’s jersey, the news broke that the UCI had decided to appeal the Spanish federation’s ruling on Contador’s positive. Navarro confessed that the news was “disappointing,” but trusts that ultimately it will be “resolved well and soon.”
His schedule now is limited to the Vuelta a Castilla y León and the Giro d’Italia, where he’s a shoo-in for the roster. Between the two races, Navarro will travel with Contador to reconn three stages of the corsa rosa, because “it’s a very hard race,” where he expects “to be at the level of the last Tour.” Afterwards, depending on how he ends up in Italy, he’ll ride the Tour de France.
Photo of Dani Navarro from Tim de Waele free access gallery
LA VANGUARDIA (EFE) - Alberto Contador’s brother, Fran Contador, who also functions as the three-time Tour de France winner's representative, has acknowledged, after a meeting between the Spanish Olympic Committee and the Association of Athletes, that they were not “taken by surprise” by the UCI’s appeal.
“The UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency are exercising their right to appeal and we respect that, we were not taken by surprise and it’s something that we expected and we were mentally prepared for the worst, but we’re going to keep working to prove Alberto’s innocence,” stressed his brother at the end of the meeting.
As for the announcement that WADA will also go to court in the case, Alberto’s agent said, “Our defense is going to be the same and it doesn’t pose a greater problem than if only the UCI had appealed, but there’s no doubt that we’re talking about two very important institutions.”
“I don’t know if the UCI and WADA have come to an agreement, but we’re going to continue along the same line in order to prove Alberto’s innocence, since with the truth on your side, ultimately you win, and in all this business we’re thinking about seeing it through until the end,” said Fran Contador.
“Above all, we want for the whole process to be done properly, for it to be neither cut short nor drawn out, but for things to be done right, taking whatever time is necessary, without hurrying,” he said.
The timing of the process falls astride the dates of the next Tour de France, and for that reason, Fran Contador said that, for them, “right now, we’re not thinking about participation in the Tour de France, it’s not what we’re most concerned with.”
As for the state of Alberto Contador’s spirits, his brother said that “he’s well, cheerful and focused on his goals, but logically, he’d be better without this issue.” Concerning the strategy that they’ll follow now that they know about the presentation of the appeal, Fran Contador states that “nothing has changed and it’s possible to bring in more evidence to reinforce our positions.”
“The documentation that we have is very good and we have confidence in our lawyers, since we have legal and medical support so that everything is resolved in our favor,” Contador emphasized.
As for the judge who must decide at CAS, Fran Contador said that they’re trying “to look at the best option and choose the best without regard to nationality.”
Once the matter is completely resolved, and in the case of a favorable resolution, Fran Contador reserved the right to “demand accountability from those we consider suitable, if that’s the case.”
Fran Contador advocated revising the regulations as well as acting upon the fact that from his point of view there was a legal basis for acquitting Alberto Contador in this process, in which “new professionals will be incorporated from other law firms,” he said.
(Photo of Fran Contador by Laurent Galinon)
Spring has sprung and it's time to have fun at the races (Alberto Saiz/AP)
Alberto Contador: “It would be a tremendous dream to win La Volta”
La Vanguardia - Alberto Contador, the cyclist from Pinto, is still awaiting the decision of the Union Cyclist Internationale on his acquittal from doping that was handed down by the Spanish Federation. Meanwhile, he intends … to take part in the Volta a Catalunya, which starts tomorrow in Lloret de Mar and ends next Sunday in Barcelona. He hasn’t competed in a Catalonian race since 2005 when he won the first stage race in his fruitful career, the Setmana Catalana.
What’s is like going through these last days before the possible appeal by the UCI?
Right now I’m only focused on my preparation and on my races. What concerns me is training well, in the best possible way, with the Giro as the goal on the horizon. I should know something in the next few days, true, but I’m leaving all that in the hands of the people around me. I’m focused on the sport.
You’re a person who usually prepares for the worst and so the blow, if it comes, doesn’t seem as hard?
Over all you have to be prepared in this life, although it’s true that it’s hard to prepare for certain things. But I insist, I’m focused on the sport now, the people that support me take care of the other things.
What’s left of the young Contador that won the Setmana at only 22 years old?
The truth is, a lot. I’m still a person with very clear ideas and goals. And I’m still really enjoying my profession, still very excited about this sport.
Maybe you’re somewhat less trusting now…
Yes, what has changed in me is that I’m much more experienced now and, why not say it, I have some calluses. In every sense. But I don’t think that I’m very distrustful. Not at all. People get that impression because I like to observe everything that’s going on around me, and to analyze it. It also can’t be denied that any public statement that I make now can have global impact that is totally unlike it was in 2005, even though I was already a relatively well-known and followed cyclist.
Why haven’t you ever ridden the Volta a Catalunya?
Well, I haven’t ridden it before because it hasn’t fit very well into my schedule. Last year things were looking good, but then I analyzed the route and found that it didn’t suit my characteristics. This year it fits in with everything and I’m very happy to be able to take part in the race.
Nor can you say that the route of the 2011 Volta is ideal for you.
Agreed, it’s not exactly perfect either. It doesn’t have an individual time trial so that I could gap certain rivals. There’s a summit finish, but it’s on day three and without huge slopes of the kind that establish differences easily. And then there are still four days left that will demand a lot of teamwork in order to control the race. I still have to study the route, but it seems to me that there aren’t great chances to attack in the final days, either. La Volta will probably be played out in the finale of the third day, in Andorra.
Are you participating in La Volta to win it?
Essentially, I’m going to La Volta to enjoy it and have fun. Clearly, I’ll try to do the best I can, but the people who are coming from Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico will arrive with a pedal stoke that I don’t have. Those people come from 7- and 8-day races and many stages of more than 200 kilometers. They’re arriving with a competition rhythm that I don’t have.
How would it feel to win the centennial edition of La Volta?
It would be tremendously exciting, unbelievable. Due to the prestige it has, due to the great history of this race, due to the fantastic list of winners, which is very important, and because it’s a race that I don’t have in my palmarès. Besides, I have very nice memories of the fans from when I’ve competed in Catalunya. Both from the days of the Setmana and from the Tour stage in 2009. What I experienced that day in Barcelona was amazing.
Are you excited about a Grand Départ in Barcelona, as it has been proposed?
It would be very good news if the Tour departed from our country, an incredible thing. The image that Barcelona created in 2009, in spite of it being a rainy day, was unforgettable, of course.
What rivals will you have to control in this edition of the Volta?
There are quite a few. Evans comes from winning Tirreno, in very good form and in competition rhythm, likewise, Basso and Scarponi. Those three will be very fast, I’m sure. Then Xabi Tondo was very good in Paris-Nice and can play an important role. And Denis Menchov will be another rival to watch. That’s just talking off the top of my head; I’m sure that there’ll be other participants hard to keep tabs on.
Have you done away with your pistol-gesture victory salute?
No, anyhow, we’ll see what I do next time. It was only in Murcia that the idea didn’t appeal to me, and I don’t want to say more.
Why? Are you getting ready for a change?
Not necessarily. It won’t be easy to repeat it in Andorra.
Prospects in the 100th Volta a Catalunya put a smile on Contador's face (AC press room)
Alberto Contador will take the start tomorrow in the Volta a Catalunya, where he arrives after a fourth place in the Volta ao Algarve plus two stage wins and the overall victory in the Vuelta a Murcia. It will be the first time the Saxo Bank-SunGard leader has ridden the Volta, a ProTour race where he says he’ll encounter “Tour de France rivals, because Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Denis Menchov and many others will be there.” AUDIO COMMENTS
The Volta a Catalunya begins tomorrow, how do you feel about riding?
I’m arriving motivated. I like to compete and, after the Vuelta a Murcia, it’s been 15 days since I’ve done it. I’ve done some good training, but mainly base training, thinking a little more in the long term, for the Giro d’Italia. Like Murcia, there’ll also be riders in this race with more miles in their legs, people who’ve done Paris-Nice and, especially, people who were competing in Tirreno-Adriatico just four days ago. Those people will certainly arrive a little farther along in form than I will.
Compared to the Algarve and Murcia, is this race the hardest of the three?
I don’t know what to say…it’s maybe more complicated? because the route is too good for attacking. The third day is the key stage, with the finish in Andorra, in Pal, but the rest of the days are complicated and there’s no time trial. So, considering all that, the route isn’t really great for me.
Would you have liked a time trial?
Definitely, because there are riders that I could take time away from on this terrain and because it’s always good for making adjustments on the time trial bike.
Your rivals here seem more important that in the Algarve and Murcia.
The people here are Tour de France rivals. They’ll be Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Menchov, Scarponi—who’s riding very strong—and more besides. They’re going to be extremely tough rivals, with the difference being that this year everybody’s out to win, they’ve all done good races already. They’ve gotten a very good start to the year and it’s going to show. It’s a shame that a ProTour race like this one, in its centennial year and with a line-up of riders like this, is not going to be televised.
What’s your idea here, to ride to win, to test yourself or to train?
I want to test myself on the third day, the Andorra day, but I know that it’s not the best-suited race for me and there are riders who are much better prepared. Don’t forget that Murcia was 15 days ago and that it was only three days long, including a time trial, while those other races are eight days, which allows you to fine-tune and reach another level of competition—but hey, I want to test myself.
And after Catalunya, are you sticking to the plans you’ve already mentioned?
Yes, we’re not going to change anything. I’ll continue with the Vuelta a Castilla y León, as preparation for the Giro, and go to Belgium for the Fleche Wallonne, which went pretty well last year. I’m motivated to go because it’s very nice, due to the fans and because it has a special prestige. And then, the Giro d’Italia.
(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)
Alberto Contador is one of many top cyclists who will donate original jerseys from upcoming races to auction on behalf of victims of the tsunami in Japan.
Alberto will donate his jersey from the start line of next week’s Volta a Catalunya, complete with original bib number, autograph and dedication.
The original maillots worn by cyclists riding Milan-San Remo, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya will be put up for auction on the website www.all1sport.com in order to raise money for Japan, which was hit last week by the terrible tragedy of earthquake and tsunami which has caused thousands of deaths.
The cycling world wants to show that the Japanese people remain in their thoughts after all that has happened is recent days. One of the promoters of the auction, Japanese champion Takashi Miyazawa (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli), has moved quickly to enlist the help of a host of passionate cycling fans:
“I’m happy and excited about the initiative, which came about by chance during a chat with the guys from the A&J Sport Management agency when I told them about my personal sadness for the tragedy that my country is experiencing. I’m here in Italy, but my countrymen are facing a difficult time and I can’t be happy, not even when I think about participating in San Remo, a career first for me. So we want to turn this event into a way to support my country. I’m touched by the solidarity of my colleagues and I can only thank them for the common front of support that they’ve shown me.”
Many cyclists have already signed on to the initiative, which started a few days ago. Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) and all of the other strongmen of the peloton have accepted the call to auction their jerseys with bib number still intact. Among them are reigning World Champions Thor Hushovd and Fabian Cancellara, as well as Italian cyclists of the first rank, like Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso (Liquigas Cannondale), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha), Stefano Garzelli (Aqua & Sapone), Alessandro Petacchi, Michele Scarponi and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD).
Other international stars contributing are Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Mark Cavendish (HTC), Tyler Farrar (Garmin), Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma), Cadel Evans (BMC) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step), to name only a few, since all top-level names are taking part.
Support has also come from the teams, who have encouraged the majority of their riders to strengthen this important event by getting involved.
Alberto Contador has issued an invitation via Twitter for fans to help the Japanese people by bidding on his jersey.
You can start your bidding right away. It’s simple: just go to www.all1sport.com and click for instructions.
(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)
Alberto Contador: “Seeing the faces of my parents every day has been the worst part of this nightmare”
El Periódico – by Sergi López-Egea - Alberto Contador says in an interview with El Periódico that the suffering of his parents was the worst thing he had to endure during the months that transpired between learning that clenbuterol had appeared in his urine and being cleared of doping by the Spanish Cycling Federation.
The rider admits that he thought about quitting cycling, that he has had difficulty sleeping, that there has been no upside to the experience, and that some Spanish athletes, like Pep Quardiola, have supported him during the entire process.
“During all of these months my family has been deeply hurt. Many things have been published that aren’t true, and I think that some media sources have not treated me right. If I’ve managed to escape deep depression, it’s been due to the support of my family, of my friends, of my people…
"Sometimes people forget that behind an athlete, there’s a person and a family. Seeing the suffering faces of my parents has been the worst part of this nightmare. This whole situation has made me suffer for them, for my fiancée and for all my people.”
Contador also explains that he went through many bad days. “Suddenly I’d get up in a good mood and be eager to train, but then I’d hear or read something horrible and my morale would plummet. For weeks and weeks I’ve had trouble sleeping because I had a such a great feeling of powerlessness that I couldn’t do anything, much less live as normal. People have picked me up and have supported me much more during these last months than when I won the Tour for the third time.”
Going back to the Giro
The rider also talks about his plans for the future, which will include attending the Volta a Catalunya next week and then going in search of another victory in the Giro d’Italia. “If I can, I’ll try to win the Volta. There’s a stage in Andorra that’s a good match for my characteristics. The Volta is a race that I’ve never ridden.
"Then I’ll focus on the Giro as the first big goal. Three years ago I really enjoyed that race, in spite of how hard it is. And I won it. I want to do it without pressure.
"The Tour depends on how everything goes. But of course what I want is to ride it and win it for the fourth time.”
Alberto Contador spoke at length with AS.com on March 10 (Dani Sanchez)
After six months of uncertainty, Alberto Contador is once again riding and winning.
After his victory in the Vuelta a Murcia, he visited the office of AS with his constant companions Fran Contador and Jacinto Vidarte. He spoke about his case, without shying away from any questions, and about his future in racing.
AS.com - by Juan Gutiérrez - Alberto Contador arrives at AS at five o’clock in the afternoon, the “hora taurina”—the traditional hour of the bullfight. He comes accompanied by the usual gang, his constant companions: his brother and manager Fran Contador, and Jacinto Vidarte, his spokesman and friend.
Initially, the appointment isn’t as relaxed as it has been at other times. This is not the Alberto who visited this paper in 2008 after rounding out the Triple Crown. Nor is it the one who attended the Gala in November of the same year. Nor the one of so many interviews. He faces questions on the defensive. He sizes up the bull.
Six months have passed since the positive was announced and, in spite of the acquittal, he assures us that he is not the same person he used to be.
“The thing I'm responsible for—winning races, that’s what I do well. But this is beyond me. Suddenly they accuse you of something that you haven’t done, of something that you’ve always been against and you see people around you suffering, your parents upset, crying… You spend sleepless nights, I was even losing my hair. You can’t imagine what that kind of suffering is like. I have a scar for life.”
“You have to forget, Alberto, you have to go forward,” Juan Mora urged him. But for Contador, it hits a sore spot: “I’ve always defended the anti-doping fight, always! Without controls, they’re destroying me. I want for there to be controls, and for the genetically best to win. I’m not resentful and I know about forgetting, but I don’t want to forget. There are things that I’ll always see differently.” The conversation, as we said, starts with defense.
You’ve contracted Dupont, the lawyer of the Bosman case.
Fran can tell you best about that. I trust the people that I have around me very much, and I must focus on the sport. He can tell you.
And Fran tells us: “We’ve added a lawyer with great ideas, who was able to revolutionize sport. We have tremendous documentation in our favor and he knows international sports law very well. We’re prepared in the event the UCI or WADA decide to appeal, although we still have no indication of what they’ll do. The resolution is conclusive in our favor, with clear expert reports, and they’re going to have to think hard about it.”
You’ve stressed that the rules have to change. Why, Alberto?
Clenbuterol has to have a threshold. And you have to do it not only for me, but for other athletes who haven’t been able to defend themselves. I have available the results of the three days before and after the positive, and the scientists haven’t been able to see the evolution, but if that happens at home, in an isolated analysis, I don’t have a hope. If they analyzed all the samples from Argentinean and Mexican races in Cologne, we would see. As long as there’s a possibility of contamination, you can’t punish an innocent person.
“The director of the laboratory in Cologne did a study that found traces of clenbuterol in 22 out of 28 German tourists who traveled to China. That’s one of the reasons why the table tennis player Ovtcharov wasn’t sanctioned,” added Vidarte. “The scientists say that it’s impossible to administer an amount of clenbuterol that small and that at those levels it doesn’t improve performance; so, how can it be a positive?” finished Fran.
But a member of your team, Astana, said in the interview with the Belgian magazine Humo that the clenbuterol was left over from a weight-loss treatment that re-entered your body through a transfusion.
We’re studying a legal action against that magazine. The line of reasoning is impossible. It talks about some dates on which I did controls, during the Dauphiné and on the eve of the Tour. If I’d taken clenbuterol, it would’ve shown up on those days.
Why didn’t Astana refute that information?
The team has not been up to par. When I signed with them, I asked them for a two-page rider with anti-doping regulations. They knew that I was uncompromising on this fight, on zero tolerance.
Contador opens up. He doesn’t shy away from any question. Like the following one from Juanma Trueba: “From the outside we realize that cycling condemns itself, that Pereiro accused Landis of having robbed him of the photo in Paris. You, as number one, should lead that fight and point out the cheaters.”
I might have suspicions, but can I say it publicly if there’s no evidence? When Riccò tested positive in 2008, I thought it was a big joke. People can say they saw it coming, but not me. I thought the guy was fine. We can’t judge by suspicion or by what we read in the papers. Outside of Spain, they accuse us of patriotism, but they haven’t read my resolution. Here, it was made public and many of the people that bothered to read it changed their minds.
And the theory of the plasticizers?
Nowhere in the UCI’s dossier (“They are 2,300 pages, some 600 of the defense,” points out Fran) are plasticizers mentioned. It’s not a validated procedure, but I’m going to go further: that they freeze my blood and my urine and that they analyze it in a few years, when it’s validated. I’ve also got an immaculate biological passport, the UCI admits it. A transfusion would change some of the parameters.
And why not go public with your biological passport?
Because there’s always some wise person or other interpreting things for free. The scientists have to analyze it, the ones who know about that. Of the three that have seen it, all three have arrived at the same conclusions. And let nobody think that it’s because we’ve paid them, because they’re some of the best and they’re risking their reputations.
Contador eyes the sweets that are on the table, but resists temptation. “Now do you control your food more?” Jesús Mínquez asks him.
“There are studies that demonstrate that some 10% of the meat supply could be contaminated,” interjects Vidarte. And Fran interrupts him to send a message to livestock farmers: “They’re considered attacks, but it was never our intention. Just as there is illegal cocaine and people that take it, so you can hit a snag with livestock.”
Vidarte intervenes to change the subject: “You can also do questions about sport.” We move on.
How did you feel about your victories in the Vuelta a Murcia?
I wanted to win as thanks for the support that I’ve received from the fans and from the team.
Now you’re preparing for the Giro d’Italia. How’s it look?
On paper, it’s the hardest route I’ve ever seen. It’s brutal.
You’ve spoken about an unprecedented challenge: winning the three grand tours in one year. Can you see that happening?
I had that dream, but, after what has happened, I don’t see myself able to make that much sacrifice.
Imagine: you win the Giro, the UCI and WADA don’t appeal and you also win the Tour. Would you then go to the Vuelta to try for it?
Ufff! Right now I have plans for the Volta, Castilla y Leon and Fleche Wallonne. Then we’re going to the Giro and we’ll see. There are 34 days to rest before the Tour. And between the Tour and the Vuelta, another 25. But this year is difficult, I haven’t taken vacations and I haven’t been able to disconnect.
Riis wants you to slow down…
Yes. Riis insists that I don’t obsess. I’ll go without pressure, but if I feel good, since I know myself…I’ll try to win.
What’s your opinion about using the radio?
Removing the earpiece benefits me tactically. On my team everyone knows who’s the leader. That gets complicated on squads that have several cyclists with aspirations. The problem is safety. In Murcia, Rubén Plaza fell down an embankment and nobody could send word.
Doesn’t it cut into the spontaneity?
To me, nobody tells me when I have to attack. In the 2009 Tour, I did it in Andorra because I had good legs and it didn’t put the team in jeopardy, even though later there was controversy with Armstrong. We’re not a PlayStation. A director can’t tell us: “You will attack on Saturday.” No, I’ll attack when I have the strength.
In Spain, you giving the Tourmalet stage to Andy Schleck didn’t sit well with people.
I’m an attack cyclist, you all know me. That day there were no bonifications and I thought that that was best. I applied the adage ”today for you and tomorrow for me.” This wasn’t easy: if you win everything, they criticize you; if you allow winning, they do, too. I remember that they rained criticism on me in the 2008 Vuelta when I won a stage over Mosquera.
And that time trial in the last Tour—how we suffered!
My legs hurt so much! It was bad from the beginning. I said: “This has to go on for 35 more kilometers?” At one point I was in so much pain that I thought, “Well, I finish second and it’s over, but I won’t suffer any more.”
“We like to talk about cycling,” intervenes Juan Mora. Contador responds, “It’s great, but we can talk about everything it needs. I’m going to tell the truth to the end of the world. You’ve helped me a lot during these months, because I’ve been able to keep holding my head high. Let no one forget it.”
In an exclusive interview with Sportweekend, Alberto Contador looks back on a turbulent time.
The Spanish rider for Saxo Bank hopes that he will soon know more and can sit on his bike in a relaxed manner with an easy mind.
Contador was cleared of doping by the Spanish federation. “But I’m not completely relieved yet. The UCI can still appeal the decision,” said Contador to Sportweekend.
“I have faith that everyone will see that my positive test doesn’t have anything to do with doping,” said Contador. “I was tested so often in the Tour that I can prove my position. And so I’m grateful to the Tour.”
Despite all the doping worries, he came back and won the Vuelta a Murcia right away. “I stayed in form,” he says about that. “I never lost my concentration or motivation.”
“I’d really like to ride the Giro, but according to my director, Riis, it’s too heavy. That’s why Liège-Bastogne-Liège, among others, isn’t on my program.”
“I will ride the Fleche Wallonne. I have an uneasy feeling left in my stomach because of my third place from last year (behind Evans and Rodriguez). The finish on the Muur de Huy suits me, but I think I attacked too late last year.”
On other questions:
About Jurgen Van den Broeck: “Last year, he rode at a high level, but he needs to work a step higher to really get to the top. I am convinced that he will compete for the podium at the Tour."
About Lance Armstrong: "We were on the same team, but we weren’t complementary, and because of that there were awkward moments. When I was young, Lance was my hero. I had a poster of him in my room.”
About his personal life: “I’m not really a bookworm. I actually don’t read much. I do listen to music. I think songs by James Blunt and Anastascia are attractive."
(Translation from Dutch by GR)
EL CORREO - by J. Gómez Peña - The only way Alberto Contador knows how to fight doubt is to win. That’s what he did yesterday: he won the final time trial (12.7 km), with 8 seconds of advantage over Jerome Coppel and 12 over Denis Menchov, winning, at the same time, the overall title in the Vuelta a Murcia.
“I hope that it’ll be the first of many triumphs this year, “ he said, awaiting knowledge whether the UCI or WADA will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to request that he be sanctioned for the positive in the Tour for which he was absolved by the Spanish federation. “At 2 kilometers from the end, I had tremendous pain in my legs, but I remembered the people that have supported me.” For them, for himself and for his team, he defended himself in his own way: with victory. Yet again, alone in the face of obstacles that chase him now, and have done for a long time.
The hare parrying before the pursuing greyhounds. This is his biography. That of a kid who played right back in high school but wanted to be a forward. Who quit football because they kept him on the bench. Who had the body of a climber and, since he wanted to be a time trialist, offered himself for free in the Spanish crono championship and finished third. Who decided, still an adolescent, to be a cyclist and brazenly called the director of the Iberdrola amateurs on the phone so that he would sign him. Who, when under anesthesia for brain surgery in 2004, dreamt about winning the Tour. Who, a few short months after being told by doctors that he might not be able to live a normal life, won a stage in the Tour Down Under.
At 52.5 km/hour
“Class can be neither bought nor sold,” wrote his brother Fran yesterday on Twitter. They shared childhood and bunk beds. “I knew that he was going to be a cyclist. And later, that he was going to ride the Tour. And win it,” Fran recalls.
After winning the 2010 Tour, they asked Alberto Contador how he felt: “Liberated. I put tremendous pressure on myself.” Talented, ambitious, hard-working, focused and now, after seeing himself implicated in a doping case, angry. A winning cocktail.
Strong, physically and mentally. “I don’t see myself Armstrong’s gregario,” he declared when he found out that he was going to share a team with the American. “I’ve ridden two races, one on the road and one in the hotel,” he criticized after winning the 2009 Tour with his “teammate” Armstrong having become his worst enemy. He closed the era of the American.
A bit of determination and a bit of despair. Contador, in strange circumstances, was excluded twice from the Tour. Even so, he has won it on three occasions. “I’m greatly motivated by how much it costs to win it,” he usually says.
He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to ride it in 2011. If he’s at the start line, he’ll be swimming through the heavy seas of mistrust that his positive has left in international public opinion. Another hill to climb in his story.
That’s why he wants to dispel suspicions with each kilometer. Without interruption. He won on Saturday on the slopes of the Collado Bermejo and yesterday in the short flat time trial in Murcia: at 52.5 kilometers per hour. A bullet. He cried out for his innocence when he was accused of doping and now he insists with the pedals that he is not playing with marked cards.
With his preparation tripped up by sleepless nights, stress and mental anguish, Contador has come back as he always does, fresh and like brand-new. In the first race after his return, the Volta ao Algarve, he couldn’t stick with the best in the time trial. He went to Mallorca to train. A week, and he peaks. It was enough.
“The victory in Murcia is a relief for him and for the team,” pointed out Saxo Bank director Dan Frost. Contador is hoping for the Giro, that’s certain. And, if there’s no appeal, also the Tour and the Vuelta. He said one day that he’d like to win all three in the same year. He wants to be a legend. Against the mountains, against the clock... Against everything.
Alberto Contador forges ahead (Reuters)
SPORT.es/March 1, 2011 - by Agustí Bernaus - Alberto Contador remains holed up for a week in the Mallorcan town of Puigpunyent. There, in the tranquility of the island, he’s trying to recover “time.” Contador, the one who lost seven months to the positive for clenbuterol in the Tour. The one who marks the distinguishing feature between a rider and a winner of the most important race in the world. With the acquittal of the Spanish Federation in his pocket, Contador didn’t mind responding to a battery of questions from Lluis Mascaró, adjunct director of SPORT, and Sique Rodríguez, of ONA FM.
Seven months without riding is a long time. You noticed it in your legs in the Volta ao Algarve, but how has it affected you personally?
These months have been extremely difficult. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. It’s been really hard. After the Tour and the criteriums I always take two weeks to go to the Caribbean. But this time I’ve been hanging on the telephone 24 hours a day and seeing how each day something new cropped up, each one more serious than the one before. At night I couldn’t sleep from accumulated tension. They’ve been terrible months and I’m sure that it’s going to take a toll throughout the year.
Do you think the case is finished or will it continue at the Court of Arbitration for Sport?
I’m aware that the Union Cyclist Internationale and the World Anti-Doping Agency have the right to appeal. I always keep in mind this possibility and that’s why, simultaneously with the competitions, we’re also working on this route. But I’m sure that, when they analyze the Federation’s ruling, they’ll take into account that the acquittal hasn’t been a question of patriotism but rather of justice, based on scientific data.
Then you’re convinced that they won’t appeal and that you’ll ride the Tour…
Yes, I can see riding the Tour. I’ve had a meeting with my director to finalize the calendar. We’ve planned the competitions until May and the rest…we’ll have to wait to plan them.
With all this muddle, your objectives have changed. And yet you do have some between now and May?
Certainly, I need them for motivation and to train hard. I always go out to do the best I know how. And in the Giro I want to do well. I’m motivated. I feel like going back. It’s the race that brings back the best memories. If I go to the Tour later, I’ll have to sort out taking breaks. It’ll be like an experiment.
Guardiola went through a doping case. Years went by, but he was able to prove his innocence. He said it was more important than winning the Champions. He said of you that with the truth, you have to go until the end.
Yes, those words were important, because they coincided with when absolutely horrible claims were being made. I got in touch with him and thanked him personally for his support. I think like he does, and I’m going to fight so that everything is crystal clear. It’s sad that in his case he had to go through such bad times, but the important thing is that they told him the reason.
Your case has been spiced by critical statements from the UCI and WADA presidents. They even advised you to accept the one-year sanction that the resolution initially proposed. Did you think that you’d already been condemned, even before the Competition Committee reached a decision?
Certainly. There was a time when I thought there was no solution. Reporters who didn’t have access to the documentation because it wasn’t translated, people that didn’t have all the facts, put pressure on me. But my feeling for months is that it was being prejudged.
I tried to keep some space. I showed respect to the Competition Committee, knowing that they would act with professionalism and rigor. When they proposed the one-year sanction I couldn’t accept it. I thought that when you have reason on your side, when it’s so obvious, and then they make such a proposal, you’re absolutely shattered and you ask, “how can this be possible?” Fortunately, the arguments were specific and the Committee took them into account.
It sounded like blackmail that they proposed a year of suspension, and voices were heard telling you to accept it because otherwise it could be worse.
It was unbelievable, because this advice might have some value to a guilty person, but not to me. To me, it was worthless.
Who have you relied on for support during all this time?
Only my family and two or three friends that have been there. And of course, my fiancée, who was with me 24/7.
Did you ever think about throwing in the towel and retiring?
There was a time at the beginning. After having given everything for this sport, after having taken responsibility for it and supporting the anti-doping fight, the disillusionment was so great that I considered never getting on a bicycle again. Then you see that people are pulling for you and you rethink a lot of things.
Will you sue the people who have slandered you for damages?
Yes. A certain case is in the lawyers’ hands. There are several in the media that are involved that process now.
What do you say to people who are skeptical about the theory of the contaminated meat and who believe that Contador, because he’s Spanish, has been given preferential treatment by his country?
I’d like for them to get informed, for them to read the documentation, for them to understand it, before making up their minds. Through the media, sometimes things have gotten distorted.
And to the people that continue the buzz about the intervention of the Prime Minister, Rodriguez Zapatero, being decisive?
I don’t like those claims, of course. And I don’t believe that any influence existed. The ruling is impeccable and when the experts analyze it, they’re going to have to rethink many things.
Are you afraid that you’ll be accompanied by suspicion from now on?
We’re in a world where you’re suspected of doping simply because you’re a cyclist.
Do you think that athletes have fewer rights?
I wasn’t aware of it before, but it’s obvious that sports law violates our rights and that those don’t correspond to ordinary justice. Having to prove your innocence instead of them proving your guilt seems crazy.
What has changed in you? Have you lost friends along the way? Are you more distrustful? Do you ride with more rage?
I’m not resentful and ultimately everything will go back to normal, but I’ve seen people, media, who haven’t measured up. And that does make me feel more distrustful, reserved. I’ve become tougher. The last seven months have been an intensive course, some new form of misery every day.
Have you gone back to eating veal tenderloin since then?
Only in a trustworthy place. Where I know where the meat came from.
What could you say to athletes who go to Argentina, Mexico, the USA or China?
In the last country, there’s a recent study about 28 tourists. The analysis that they did in the laboratory in Cologne revealed that in 22 of them, there were traces of clenbuterol… The data is alarming and setting a minimum threshold for clenbuterol must be revisited.
What is the lesson in all this?
That this is not just the Contador case. We have to have a paradigm shift, and to see that the situation affects all of international sport. My case can help to prevent injustices in the future. My case should serve as an example for a more just sport.
Alberto Contador (Toto Ramon)
Photos: upper middle - Reuters; lower middle - Tim de Waele free access gallery
Alberto Contador begins his second stage race of the season tomorrow at the Vuelta a Murcia. He comes to Murcia after team training camp in Mallorca, where he was able to train in peace after his season opener, the Volta ao Algarve, where he finished fourth overall. “I did some good training in Mallorca,” he says, “I tried to recover from the effort of doing the Algarve and even though the weather was not great, I hope that, step by step, I’m doing a little better every day.”
Do you think that you’ll improve on your performance in Portugal?
Not many days have gone by since then. I have been able to focus on work, actually, but I don’t think there’ll be that much difference, although I still hope to improve a bit.
How does the abbreviated Vuelta a Murcia route look, with only three stages?
I really like this race and I’ve got good memories of 2008 (he was third overall). It’s a shame that it had to be cut back to three days due to economic problems, but they’re three spectacular stages, a rollercoaster first stage that could end in a final sprint, a second that gives the climbers a good chance and a final time trial. They’ll be three very intense days.
What are your expectations?
I’m coming with the hope of enjoying the team and trying to be there, to see how I feel and to see if I’m doing better than in the first race of the season. That’s the idea, to see where I am.
What do you say to the people who think you can win?
That in Murcia there will be riders with more miles in their legs than I have, that they’re riding very strong and that they’re cyclists of the highest level. Winning is very difficult, but I’ll be there, we’ll see what final result I get.
How does the climb to Collado Bermejo look?
It’s a tough climb, but whether it can explode the race remains a question, mainly because there’s still an eight-kilometer descent after that where it’s always possible to reconnect if you’ve only lost a little time. You never know just how hard the climb is going to be.
After the Algarve and Murcia, is your calendar confirmed?
Yes, after this I’ll ride the Volta a Catalunya, the Vuelta a Castilla y León and the Flêche Wallonne before doing the Giro d’Italia.
(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)
Alberto Contador's big brother tells about their trip through hell
MARCA - Fran Contador escaped on Friday, the day of the queen stage at the Volta ao Algarve. At the top of the Alto de Malhão, he couldn’t take the bouquet of flowers, like he did last year, but he went back to Madrid convinced that his brother Alberto is on the right track and, above all, that he’s on the best possible team.
“I have no words to describe how well they’re behaving, both the team and the sponsors. At every moment, even the darkest, they’ve sent us support and reassurance. It’s the best option that we could’ve chosen,” he said before starting the trip home.
The same can’t be said for Astana, whom he didn’t want to talk about even though it owes them a pile of money: “They have their particular version of the facts and they’re acting accordingly,” he responds curtly, not wanting to say more, although the truth is that they’ve gone since September without collecting one euro of payment from the Kazakhs.
Like Alberto, the oldest of the Contador children has gone through hell in the last few months: “I wouldn’t wish something like this on anybody, not even my worst enemy.” Sleepless nights, tension, sadness, the feeling of injustice and powerlessness…
“The worst moment was when they told us that the positive was going to be leaked, because until then they had told us that everything was in order and that everything would be done with discretion. Only the two of us knew it, that’s why the first thing we did was go and tell our parents, who were already in bed because it was 11:30 at night. They couldn’t believe it. Seeing your loved ones suffer has been the worst, even though now, like everybody, they feel a little relieved because they see that, to some extent, justice has been done, even though, as my brother says, this is going to leave a huge scar forever.”
In all this time, however, one thing they haven’t lost has been the support of the fans: “It might seem a bit silly, but it helps a lot because we’ve always felt a lot of support, especially from the people of Pinto. Thanks to that, even on the worst days, when truly terrible things were being said, you come up with the strength to keep fighting and working.”
Although Alberto hasn’t been sitting on his hands, Fran has been the one who has led and organized the defense from day one: “From the beginning it was clear that in order to defend the matter legally, we had to defend it scientifically, and prove, with the best possible experts, that the only hypothesis possible was that of food contamination. We’ve spent a lot of money on that—some reports have cost a fortune.” He doesn’t give figures, but the rumors going round the peloton say that a particular one could have exceeded 30,000 euros.
“We’ve been able to do it thanks to the fact that Alberto has the means at his disposal,” meaning that, as number 1 in the world, he has been the best-paid cyclist in the peloton.
“Others have not been able to defend themselves,” he admits. “Now, with everything that we have, we can go anywhere in the world to defend the case and to explain why my brother is innocent. We have everything perfectly well-founded, everything based on science, therefore the RFEC Competition Committee’s ruling has been exculpatory. It’s consistent with the law, anyone who reads the resolution will arrive at that conclusion. The truth is on our side.”
However, the game is still not over perhaps, since both the UCI and WADA could appeal to CAS. “We’d like to think that it’s over—why not if everything has a scientific explanation? –but in any case, we’ve taken an important step.”
The exhaustive anti-doping controls that cyclists go through, mainly in the Tour de France, have helped in the clarification of the case. ”Thanks to the fact that Alberto has controls from before and after, it’s been possible to rule out other ways” that clenbuterol could have entered his system. “It’s the difference between him and other athletes, who’ve only done sporadic controls. We’ve been able to prove that the only way has been food contamination.”
Ovtcharov, for example, needed hair analysis for acquittal. “His is a similar case, although since he didn’t have more controls to put on the table, what he did was, through hair analysis, prove that the entrance of clenbuterol into his system did not occur over a prolonged period of time. His case is a precedent.”
After the expedited special masters in medicine, veterinarian medicine, chemistry and sports law that has been done in recent months, Fran Contador thinks that “it’s necessary to set a threshold for certain substances. Not only for clenbuterol, which is our concern, but also for other substances which, according to the experts, can be found in food.
"It’s the only way, ultimately, for the athlete not to be wronged by a situation that’s out of his hands and beyond his control. How great it would be, if, because of our case, no other innocent athlete had to go through pain like this!”
Contador is already competing, but his case, unfortunately, still isn’t closed: “We’ll see it through, if we have to, to the end,” even if necessary to the regular courts and to the *Court at Strasbourg.
“I will throw all my heart and soul into defending the innocence of my brother,” warns Fran.
*The European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg)
Bjarne Riis and Alberto Contador ultimately decide that Noval will not go to the Vuelta a Murcia, Dani Navarro’s presence is in doubt
El Comercio Digital - Benjamín Noval, who was a shoe-in for the Vuelta a Murcia squad with Alberto Contador and Dani Navarro, will instead represent his new team, Saxo Bank, at Paris-Nice.
Three-time Tour winner Contador agreed to what looks like a firm decision by the director of the Danish team, Bjarne Riis, and Noval will go to his first World Tour race, but then possibly ride Castilla y León and Catalunya with Contador and Navarro.
Dani Navarro, however, is having problems, given that he has hardly trained due to a bad case of gastroenteritis these last few days in Mallorca, where Saxo Bank is doing its second team training camp of the year. In light of this circumstance, it’s doubtful whether Navarro will participate in the Vuelta a Murcia.
spn.dk - Nicki Sørensen is impressed with the strength of his new teammate, Alberto Contador
Contador was with Saxo Bank-SunGard at the velodrome in Mallorca on Saturday morning to hone his time trial form. The Spaniard’s Danish teammate, Nicki Sørensen, is impressed all-round with the level Contador has shown in his first month with the team.
“I’ve never seen anyone ride as strongly in training as he does. Never. And I’ve been riding for a long time and together with a lot of good cyclists,” he says.
According to Sørensen, no other member of the team can compare with the Spaniard.
“He’s scary strong. In a class above all of us,” said the Dane, meaning that no one shoud fear for Contador’s form, even though the reigning Tour de France winner had to take an involuntary break from cycling because of his clenbuterol case.
“I have no fears about his form. Certainly not. I’ve never seen anything like it. I think it’ll be fun to ride for him in the big races.”
Photo: Saxo Bank-SunGard rider and former Danish champion Nicki Sørensen (Team Saxo Bank)
(Translation from Danish by TY)
AS.com - “The triumph was just being here, I’m enjoying myself again”
Alberto Contador wasn’t able to win the Volta ao Algarve or even make the podium, but the good news is, he feels like a cyclist again.
After finishing 4th in Portugal—41” from winner Tony Martin, and just 2” from the podium—Contador spent Monday resting in Pinto. On Tuesday he travelled to Palma de Mallorca for Saxo Bank-SunGard training camp.
You didn’t win and the podium escaped you by two seconds.
That’s right. I said before that this time trial was going to be like a test for me. I tried to do my best, but I wasn’t able to be at my best. Anyway, I feel satisfied with the result, after the inactivity, the tension and all the emotional burdens Ive been carrying these last few months.
Are you satisfied, since you always aim to win?
Yes, because I had nothing to lose. I came to Portugal without pressure, to enjoy the bicycle again, and that’s what I did. I felt good again practicing my sport, and I’ve returned to the races after a difficult time when things were pretty bad for me. Owing to these problems, I haven’t trained like I’d like and I didn’t have the legs that I’ve had in past years.
So, are you going to get your head back in the game?
That’s what the team is going after, that I use more control and don’t go out at the max in every race I participate in. I start the seasons too strong, I get too exhausted, and later it costs me in recuperation time and in taking breaks between various objectives.
You finished 15th in the time trial, people aren’t used to these results.
There was a stiff headwind, and plenty of straight lines and curves. It was a flat route and very technical, for specialists, who are ones who ended up in front. It wasn’t a route for climbers. It didn’t go great for me, but just being here was already a triumph.
Friday on the Alto do Malhão you were closer to victory, you finished third.
Yes, I felt good on the climb, but due to the headwind I couldn’t shatter the race from below like in past years. I’m happy with what I did, I got into the front group and fought for the win on the climb until the very last moment.
What do you have planned from now on?
This week I’ll be at camp with the rest of my Saxo Bank teammates in Mallorca, where we’ll do training sessions and speak about how to focus the calendar. Afterwards, I’ll ride the Vuelta a Murcia (March 4-6). Then, little by little, we’ll see.
How have you felt these days with so much media around you and hanging on every step you take?
Fine, it hasn’t been a problem, I knew that something like this would happen. I appreciate the presence of the media and all the fans that have gathered at the Algarve to give me encouragement and support.
AP photo of Alberto Contador before Volta ao Algarve Stage 4
The XXXI Vuelta a Murcia (March 4-6) has announced that it’s now official: Alberto Contador will be present to lead the Saxo Bank-SunGard team at the 2011 edtion.
The reigning Tour de France champion has already been assigned bib number 41, race organizers said after meeting yesterday. Denis Menchov (Geox), second in last year’s race, will wear the number 1 since last year’s winner, Frantisek Rabon, will not defend his title. A total of 15 to 18 teams will participate.
The race in Murcia has been shortened from five stages to three this year due to a funding shortfall.
Nevertheless, the organizers guarantee a spectacular event with something for riders from all disciplines. The format—a sprinters' stage, a climbing stage, and a time trial—will resemble the Criterium International.
Pedro Delgado infuriated by criticism of Contador resolution from within pro cycling
Biciciclismo - by Pedro Delgado - 02/17/11 - Euphoria could be the best word to describe what Contador’s inner circle is experiencing after his acquittal in the sad case of the clenbuterol. Euphoria also in the Spanish media, who spread the story across the front pages (making it seem that he had won another Tour) so that everyone could see how things were turning out well in this difficult situation for one of our great internationally-acclaimed athletes.
Without wanting to throw a jug of cold water on this moment of euphoria, now we’re faced with a tense wait to see what the UCI and WADA are going to do. It will be a month from February 15—this doesn’t mean March 15, but rather 30 working days—and it’s only the 17th. According to the way these organizations spend them, it wouldn’t surprise me that they wait until the last moment to make public their decision whether to repeal or not.
Outside of our borders, things are not seen with the same satisfaction, and we’re met with harsh judgment. What most infuriates me is criticism from the world of professional cycling, who know perfectly well that this is the fight against doping, and its defects, when they criticize this lack of punishment.
The elite international peloton participates not only in Europe, but recently has been competing in Australia, Argentina, countries from the Arab world, and in the near future in South Africa and China. No one can be 100% certain about what he eats, whether it could be contaminated with clenbuterol or some other substance. That’s why I’m upset with how, as this season begins, cyclists are closing ranks in the fight against banning the earpiece, when on the other hand, on more groundbreaking issues, they look the other way.
For Contador, this month of waiting will not be as long as recent ones, since he’ll be able to compete. Mentally, the races will relieve the pressure he’s been under for the past few months, where he has trained without having a clear picture of what the immediate future holds.
I don’t know if the international sport organizations will appeal or not, but for those that think that Contador has gotten off scot-free from this situation, I refuse to accept that. In the first place, he’s spent a pile of money to defend himself (fortunately for him, he can), but it’s right to use what you have to defend yourself.
But where he he’s really suffered irreparable damage is that his name has been stained forever. Whenever he wins a race, there will always be people who’ll bring up the issue of clenbuterol to cast doubt on the result. Not to mention that he’s had to endure, among the messages of support, also ones of contempt.
If people consider this getting off scot-free, better that they never have to go through a public lynching situation the way Alberto has.
The Veo 7 television appearance was followed by a panel discussion (without Contador) including heads of Spain's cycling federation, Olympic committee, and EU Athletes chapter.
The official press office of reigning Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has issued a statement confirming that the Spanish federation has cleared Contador of doping charges today.
“Alberto Contador has been officially cleared by the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation and has been authorized to return to competition immediately,” reads the statement.
“If everything goes well, the rider will take the start, tomorrow, at the Volta ao Algarve,” concludes the notice, adding only that more information will be available soon.
Contador “should be acquitted,” says president of Spain’s national court
El Correo - Cyclist Alberto Contador “has not doped” and “should be acquitted” of a possible one-year sanction, said Ángel Juanes, the president of the Audiencia Nacional, the principal national court of Spain, to El Mundo.
“In the proposed one-year sanction” by the Spanish Cycling Federation, “it has already been noted that the rider has not doped and that the ingestion of clenbuterol is so minimal that it doesn’t serve to improve performance; that should be sufficient for acquittal—he should be acquitted,” he stated.
“But the problem is that there’s an article that establishes that the athlete is always responsible for what appears in his body,” he said.
Juanes bemoans that it has long been true in cycling that a person is guilty until proven innocent. He adds that Contador is not the first victim of an international anti-doping rule that "clashes" with Spanish law.
"The presumption of innocence is a guarantee, which in this case is not provided for, because the accused cyclist has to prove the causal relationship between the presence of clenbuterol in his body and determining cause of its ingestion."
According to the high-ranking jurist, “the Spanish Cycling Federation is following an antiquated rule,” and “it’s necessary to change some ideas.”
“With clenbuterol, it’s necessary to establish a limit for consumption in order to determine when it’s considered doping. If no threshold is established, the rule is intrinsically unjust,” he said.
Photo: Ángel Juanes (Javier Bergasa)
Contador’s defense scientifically accounts for the four positives
La Gaceta - by J. Iglesias and L. Valladares - In the proposed resolution by the Competition Committee to sanction Alberto Contador for one year of eligibility, it is shown that the cyclist “went through seven consecutive controls at the Tour, producing positive results on July 21, 2010 (50 pg/ml), July 22 (16 pg/ml), July 24 (7 pg/ml) and July 25 (17 pg/ml).”
It’s worth noting that there were four anomalous results and, especially, that the last figure was higher than those of the three previous days, the rates of which fell progressively.
Nevertheless, this all has an explanation. Alberto Contador’s defense was pressured to prove scientifically the reason for this succession of concentrations in the urine. These facts could have two origins: successive microdoses of clenbuterol (doping), or a sole dose, the residues of which appear as a consequence of the normal half-life of the drug (the tenderloin theory claimed by the Pinteño).
So La Gaceta contacted the prestigious Spanish professor at the University of Tennessee who works for the cyclist’s defense team, Tomás Martín-Jiménez, who argued for the explanation of the contaminated meat.
“The first option is virtually impossible. If you evaluate the type of dose that would be necessary to obtain something like that, the doses would be so extremely small (much much smaller that what would be contained in a contaminated filet) that not only would it have no effect on a person, but it would be virtually impossible to prepare,” the scientist summarized in regard to the possibility of doping.
In reference to the explanation of the four positives, Tomás Martín-Jiménez says that “the concentrations of the following days are consistent with the half-life of the clenbuterol after it’s ingested.” Furthermore, he insists that the elevation of the final day is “not significant."
"In pharmacokinetics, in concentrations approaching the limit of the quantification of the procedure, oscillations exist that are nothing more than the consequence of the procedure’s margin of error. Accuracy diminishes as the concentrations near the limit of the procedure, and this is the case in the last control.”
He added that the procedure used in the Cologne laboratory is quantitative rather than qualitative, which means that it makes a rough estimate of the concentrations. This means that the margin of error is greater still.
The German table tennis federation announced today that WADA will not appeal the case of Dimitrij Ovtcharov.
The world anti-doping body reserved the right to appeal the case to CAS after the federation moved to clear Ovtcharov of a doping charge since his positive was triggered through no fault of his own. Ovtcharov had tested postive for clenbuterol after eating contaminated meat while in competing in China.
Clenbuterol use in meat production is banned in China, as it is in Spain and the USA. It is nevertheless added to livestock food by farmers seeking to produce more meat in less time than natural farming methods.
The Associated Press recently referred to the use of clenbuterol in China as "rampant.”
“It’s really a big problem in China,” a senior food-industry analyst in Beijing told the AP in a report published last month. “It’s not reported frequently so people sometimes think it’s not a big issue but actually it’s quite widespread.”
Ovtcharov accidentally picked up clenbuterol in China, but citizens of other countries, where perhaps more effort is focused on controls, are not guaranteed untainted meat within their own borders either.
Alberto Contador is fighting to clear his name after eating meat purchased in Spain that later proved to be unsafe, but the instances worldwide are too numerous to count.
Take one case, from the USA—revealed by the consumer rights group Food and Water Watch through a Freedom of Information Act earlier this year—wherein the US Department of Agriculture yielded to pressure from governmental upper echelons during the Bush administration, breaking its own rules for importing poutlry and beef products from China.
By misleading the public regarding labeling and skipping vital steps in the approval process in order to speed trade negotiations, the department’s actions had implications in the areas of both health and human rights.
In spite of Spain's strict controls, police discover unsafe meat sold commercially in León. Ten businesses are under investigation.
Diario de León - by F. Ramos SEPRONA (Servicio de Protección de la Naturaleza) of the Guardia Civil has seized 18,600 kilos of meat, arrested six people and charged two with crimes against public health
From 4,000 to 18,600 kilos. That’s how much “past-expiration, unlabeled, inadequately-labeled and falsely- or deceptively-labeled (to hinder traceability)” meat has in the end been confiscated by the agents of Seprona, in cooperation with the Board of Health of Castilla y León.
The investigation, begun last December, has already triggered the first six arrests, all of whom are residents of León between the ages of 26 and 45. Two of them, although the government subdelegation did not name names in its press release, are implicated in various acts of criminal fraud, against public health and of falsification.
In spite of this important takeover of goods, the agents who have carried out the operation, which is called “Almarcar,” have reported to the León Board of Health that they have proof that part of the meat was unable to be recovered and was sold commercially in the regional capital, specifically in a certain hotel, various restaurants and butcher shops.
Precisely this certainty, according to investigation sources accessible to Diario de León, is what caused both of the detainees to be charged with a crime against public health. Moreover, it is known for a fact that the people and businesses investigated were selling meat to various establishments in the catering industry. Therefore, the investigation itself and the Heath department have sent out a reassuring message since they understand that there has been no danger of food contamination.
Origin and destination
The Board has in its possession all inspection reports, which contain verification of necessary paperwork, traceability and purported origin and destination of all meat—from cattle, sheep and pigs. At present, work is underway for the precise purpose of determining the place of origin and intended destination of the confiscated meat.
At the same time, the board has opened an internal investigation into what part of the control system has failed, resulting in the inability to spot the meat which had passed its expiration date sooner. “We have to know exactly where it has failed,” explained territorial delegate Eduardo Fernández, ”because certainly much of this meat had all the regulations at the initial period, although it’s clear that something has not been done properly,” Eduardo Fernández told Diario de León.
Seprona identified a slaughterhouse and clandestine sorting room, where they killed animals “without any sanitary controls and fraudulently created channels to simulate inspection,” explained the government subdelegation in a press release published yesterday. The Board, on the other hand, stated that when a record of the homes of the various detainees was made, no illegal slaughterhouse turned up.
At any rate, the investigation remains open and the possibility of more arrests is not ruled out. Magistrate court No. 5, which handles the case, has ordered secret proceedings.
Contador stands by contaminated meat explanation
In his arguments, he suggests that the piece of tenderloin that he ate could have undergone “illegal treatment.”
Diario Vasco - by Benito Urraburu -Alberto Contador’s legal team have presented the relevant arguments to the head attorney of the Competition Committee of the Spanish Cycling Federation for a ruling. Among other things, they say that the “anti-doping regulations establish a principle of Strict Liability, which can be applied to extenuating circumstances or even be grounds for acquittal, if the accused athlete can establish the origin of the banned substance and demonstrate that he had no fault or negligence in his conduct.”
Contador’s defense also states that “in order to determine the origin of the banned substance, it is not necessary to produce material evidence (the tenderloin), being solely required as per the regulations to a balance of probabilities among these possible causes, taking as valid the one that is most likely to have occurred.”
They assert that in the present case, among all the hypotheses concerning the origin of the substance, “four were the most likely: micodosing, microtransfusions, contaminated supplements and contaminated food, so following the evidence from RAD and the jurisprudence of CAS, they must be the only ones accepted when analyzing the case.”
They insist that thanks to the expert reports contributed and to the officials called upon at Spain’s State Anti-Doping Agency, “the lead attorney concludes that 1) three of the four possible explanations must be ruled out, which are: autotransfusion, microdosing and pharmaceutical products or nutritional supplements; and 2) value should be attached to the explanation put forward about food contamination.”
Contador’s defense say that, “applying the balance of probabilities standard, only the explanation of food contamination should be accepted as valid, following equally abundant jurisprudence from CAS (including the Gasquet case).”
They also say that “the scientific community has been calling for the establishment of a threshold for clenbuterol for years, due to the not-infrequent finding of contamination in ordinary food.”
About the contaminated meat, they say that every year there are cases in Spain of cattle farmers being arrested for fattening cattle illegally with clenbuterol.
“After a study of the law, I was able to confirm that only 0.25% of the products consumed are analyzed, which makes for a very high likelihood of beef cattle being fattened illegally in order to avoid health controls.”
They lodged a formal complaint with the Basque Government, and “it was not possible to pinpoint the exact origin of the piece of tenderloin that was consumed, since the data from the records of the butcher shop, the slaughterhouse, etc. don’t match the description of the piece that had been acquired, possibly owing to the fact that the piece sold as merchandise didn’t pass through official channels, perhaps due to having undergone illegal treatment.”
Of three possible origins, “according to the Basque Government, two were thoroughly unlikely due to the reasons cited in the principal arguments, with the only probable one being the business that was penalized in the year 2000 for fattening cattle with the very substance, clenbuterol.”
Based on the above, they consider that “the only likely hypothesis about the origin of the clenbuterol is through consuming contaminated meat.”
“My conduct must be considered absent of fault or negligence,” reiterated Contador.
The Spanish Federation take into account Contador’s arguments
El Periódico - by Sergi Lopez-Egea - The Competition Committee of the Spanish Cycling Federation began deliberating yesterday over the suit presented by Alberto Contador, who asks that his proceedings be dismissed and not considered a case of doping. According to what El Periódico has been able to learn, a part of the federation panel who are analyzing the cyclist’s situation favor accepting Contador’s arguments and are therefore reconsidering the proposed one-year sanction in order to free him from punishment.
The main fear is that the conviction exists that any verdict not having provision for a two-year sanction will be appealed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, which in sports law has the last word. Spanish anti-doping sources consider it “unlikely” that WADA will accept the proposal of one year.
Today the Competition Committee convenes over the sole argument of Contador’s suit. Juan Carlos Castaño, president of the federation, advocates an immediate resolution, as soon as this afternoon. Nevertheless, if the judges don’t see eye to eye, the decision could be postponed.
If the verdict is in Contador’s favor, he could return to competition immediately. He is currently under “provisional and voluntary” suspension as of August, when he learned “unofficially” from the UCI that traces of clenbuterol had been found in a urine analysis done on July 21.
In its preliminary investigation, the federation put into effect “extenuating circumstances” in Contador’s case, considering the positive to have been caused probably by food poisoning due to eating contaminated meat, although the cyclist is not able to prove it since no sample of the filet in question exists. At the same time, the federation dismissed the possibility that Contador might have doped voluntarily with a medication, an autotransfusion or an injection.
For this reason, Contador asks that instead of putting into effect “extenuating circumstances,” the punishment be eliminated due to the non-existence of “negligence or responsibility.” The judges in favor of altering the proposal of one year (which would cause him to lose the Tour 2010 title) to acquittal see that the new reasons put forward by the cyclist have a solid legal base. The cyclist and his entourage are now more optimistic.
The president of the Danish anti-doping agency, Jens Evald, believes that the time has come for WADA to introduce a minimum threshold for banned substances such as clenbuterol.
Evald, who is a law professor in addition to overseeing the Danish agency, sees the case of Alberto Contador as one in an ongoing series of clenbuterol cases that point to a need to re-think the rules. He considers WADA’s Strict Liability policy obsolete, an anachronism that could unfairly punish Contador and other athletes.
By not setting a minimum threshold and by issuing sanctions for positive results due to minute amounts of substances that can be found in food, Evald fears the anti-doping code wrongs the athlete.
“Clenbuterol is indeed a substance where there is no lower limit. It is in keeping with what people previously perceived, i.e. that clenbuterol could not naturally enter the body unless, for example, a person ate meat,” Evald said in an interview with tv2sport.dk.
“If it appears that this has happened, then naturally one has to set some boundaries. This has been done in other contexts, including the substance nandrolone, which was advanced in the case of Meca-Medina in 2006,” he said.
Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid commercially available by prescription and used to treat various medical conditions (osteoporosis, anemia and others), was given a minimum threshold, as Evald indicates, by the IOC as a result of the Meca-Medina case, in which two professional swimmers received bans and subsequently pursued appeals as high as the European Court of Justice.
“I don’t think the Contador affair is over,” Evald commented. “I think that it has only just begun. We have a series of clenbuterol cases, which have had a significant impact lately, where you cannot be sure whether or not the drug has entered the body through eating meat. If that is the case—that the substance has entered the body by eating beef, that a very common food is contaminated—one must obviously consider what we should do".
Evald continued his criticism: “There cannot be doping rules that punish athletes who happen to ingest contaminated food. That’s going over the line. It’s simply out of proportion to what is the real purpose of the anti-doping rules, namely the fight against doping and doping cheats. It was never intended to punish people who consume contaminated food.”
Photo: Jens Evald, president of Denmark's anti-doping agency (Nils Meilvang)
See also: Danish Anti-Doping president critical of Strict Liability policy
Contador holds firmly to cases of Ovtcharov, Mayo, Ralepelle and Basson
ABC Deportes - by José Carlos J. Carabias - Alberto Contador’s lawyers will present their defense today against the proposed one-year sanction from the Competition Committee. They have augmented the fabric of the reports with those that seek to invalidate the cyclist’s punishment, based on the most recent international cases of athletes who were let off punishment for unintentional doping, since the Committee’s sentence acknowledges the Tour winner’s lack of intent to dope.
Other cited cases:
1) Ovtcharov, the German table tennis player who tested positive for clenbuterol and was exonerated. The German Federation accepted the theory of contaminated food as the cause for the presence of clenbuterol; 2) Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson, two members of the South African rugby team who tested positive for methylhexanamine but were not sanctioned after the disciplinary commission considered the stimulant to have appeared via an energy supplement; and 3) O.J. Mayo, of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, who was suspended for only ten games after a positive for DHEA.
Contador’s lawyers will argue that there were delays in communication in an attempt to make the sanction go into effect before August 26 (he may already be able to ride on that day) and free him to participate in the Vuelta a España.
Alberto Contador on the Stage 16 podium, 2010 Tour de France (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)
“This is why they want to sanction me”
The rules governing elite sports nowadays detail a list of substances that are taken by some athletes to improve performance, leaving the rest of the competitors at a disadvantage, and one of those substances is clenbuterol.
So if clenbuterol were to be detected, or some other substance found in an amount sufficient to improve performance, and could only have appeared in the body if taken voluntarily, it was taken with that end in mind. Therefore, for particular substances there exists a threshold, the surpassing of which constitutes an offense and is punishable on a sporting level.
Today, advances in science are able to detect minute amounts of some banned substances which neither further athletic performance nor can possibly be taken voluntarily, except if they enter our bodies through ingested food; this is my case with clenbuterol. But whereas scientific advances have arrived in the year 2011, the rule remains stuck in the 60’s, hence my “crime” and possible sanction.
Only by combining scientific advances with modifications to the anti-doping rules will it be possible to talk about honest and fair sport, as I have always practiced it.
Official press release, AC press room
Justice for Alberto Contador
by Andy Ramos Gil de la Haza, a member of the office of Bardají & Honrado, Attorneys
Disciplinary Sports Law is a “rara avis” within the national legal system, in that it follows some principles (and disregards others) that could be challenged in any court in a democracy. With the laudable intent of fighting against doping, the international authorities have created a legal system that has raised questions among lawyers and national courts for attempting to violate people’s basic rights.
One of the principles underlying disciplinary Sports Law is that of strict liability, by which an athlete can be sanctioned from the moment at which a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is found in his body. The monitoring or sanctioning body does not have to prove how the substance came to be there, whether it enhanced his athletic performance, or whether there was intent to dope, but instead the burden of proof falls back on the athlete, who, according to the World Anti-Doping Code, is wholly responsible for everything that enters his body.
The Code, mindful of this inflexibility, provides for liability exclusion (and therefore exclusion from sanction) for those cases in which the athlete demonstrates that he lacked “fault or negligence” (article 10.5.1), by establishing how the banned substance entered his body, something completely impossible in many instances. Once again, aware of its rigor, both the Code and the jurisprudence of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) consider that in cases in which athletes want to claim this principle of liability exclusion, they must demonstrate by means of a balance of probabilities (article 3.1) that the motive which they allege was more likely to have occurred than some other. That is to say, for Contador’s case, that among the different explanations for the appearance of clenbuterol in his body (direct ingestion, microdosing, contaminated food, etc.), one predominates over the rest.
The Union Cycliste Internationale notified the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) that clenbuterol could have come into Alberto Contador’s body in four different ways. During the proceedings, we called upon experts from around the world to analyze one by one all the possibilities argued by the UCI, in order to prove Contador’s innocence. Both Spain’s State Anti-Doping Agency, asked by the RFEC, as well as various experts in toxicology, pharmacokinetics, chemistry, hematology, physiology, medicine, etc. scientifically ruled out each of the three other possibilities addressed by the UCI, all of them concluding that the only possible explanation was food contamination. No scientist consulted doubted their verdict.
Thus, applying that weighting of probabilities required by the World Anti-Doping Code, we have demonstrated that the theory of ingesting contaminated meat was the only one possible, therefore the exemption from responsibility which entails that the athlete should not be sanctioned in any way should be applied without fail, in the absence of fault or negligence during the involuntary and accidental ingestion of the prohibited substance. Furthermore, it must be remembered that both the UCI and the RFEC itself stress that the amount found could not at any moment have enhanced Contador’s athletic performance, therefore his victory in the last Tour de France was beyond all doubt.
About two years ago, the French tennis player Richard Gasquet tested positive in an anti-doping control when a minuscule quantity of a metabolite of cocaine was found in his urine, which he alleged came into his system after kissing a girl that he met in a disco in Miami. Considering that the amount detected was extremely low, during the proceedings the different ways of ingestion were analyzed, with both the French Tennis Federation and CAS concluding that the theory of the kiss, however unlikely it seems, was the most likely.
Gasquet was unaware that the woman he was kissing was a cocaine user and that her saliva triggered his positive in an anti-doping test. In the same way, Contador never could have imagined that, after consuming a piece of veal tenderloin, an illegal substance that had been used to fatten the calf appeared in his urine, sparking off the legal and media morass that he is forced to endure. As Contador has repeated on various occasions, the anti-doping system should exist in order to punish the guilty, and not to condemn the innocent. Or, as it has been put to CAS in the Gasquet case, “Is the intent of WADA’s Program or Code to reproach an athlete if he kisses a sexy stranger that he met that night?”
As Contador stated in his press conference on January 28, 2011, cases of this nature—involving minuscule amounts of clenbuterol—are appearing more frequently in recent months owing to the advance in and precision of systems in the laboratories for detecting banned substances. Although the case of cyclist Alessandro Colò has been the one that has had the most impact, others have come to light, such as those of German table tennis player Dimitrij Ovtcharov (75 pg/ml), the Chinese cyclist Li Fuyu (50 pg/ml), Phillip Nielsen of Denmark, and Dutch mountain biker Rudy Van Houts.
It is beyond dispute that WADA will have to set a margin of tolerance for substances that can be found in common foods, as is the case with clenbuterol. Until that occurs, the World Anti-Doping Code has already made provision for the exoneration of athletes who, due to circumstances out of the ordinary in which there was no manner of fault or negligence, have inadvertently ingested a prohibited substance.
We have confidence in the independence and professionalism of the RFEC’s Committee for Competition and Sports Discipline, and we’re sure that they will apply the anti-doping rules properly so that Alberto Contador is able to continue to bring happiness to the sport and, over all, so that the misapplication of the rules does not become an unjust guillotine of champions.
Alberto Contador official press room - This article also appeared in El Mundo under that publication's headline.
Upper photo: Andy Ramos (Bardají & Honrado). Lower photo: Ramos, Contador and company leave the offices of the Spanish Cycling Federation (MARCA)
The Atléticos displayed this banner last week in an act of support for Contador (clubatleticodepinto.com)
Pinto's Division 3 football team, the Club Atlético of Pinto, published an open letter at their website this week to protest the draft resolution against Alberto Contador, "a role model for old and young."
Total support for our honorary member Alberto Contador
The Club Atlético of Pinto wants to express its steadfast support and total confidence in the innocence of cyclist Alberto Contador.
Our organization wants to manifest its total disagreement with the draft resolution that the UCI has concocted and that entails a year of sanction and divesting Contador of his victory in the last Tour de France.
As an honorary member of the Red and Black, for us Alberto Contador is a role model for old and young. This is due to his merits as an athlete, but above all for the quality of person he is, something for which he has given ample proof.
In light of the situation that our champion has suffered since last summer, aggravated by the proposed sanction that was made public this week, our organization wants to send him a sign of our support.
Alberto, remember what you’ve always told us: Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
THE CLUB ATLETICO OF PINTO IS WITH YOU!
(Written by Ruben M. Velasco)
Hi Alberto. I’m devastated by the news you got today. I can’t imagine what the last five months have been like for you. It’s a great testament to your character that you are still training hard and fighting to clear your name.
I wish there was something we could do to help. I can’t follow a sport that would treat you this way, but I still support you as a man.
This is the big fight of your life. You could be the best cyclist ever – don’t let them take that away without using every resource available to you. Years from now, this could all be just one chapter in the story of Alberto Contador, Champion.
Give the two political, bureaucratic organizations the battle of their lives. It will help a lot of other athletes too. Take care. John
Alberto Contador was supported by Saxo Bank-SunGard team manager Bjarne Riis at Friday's press conference (Jaime Reina/AFP/Getty Images)
Alberto Contador: “I will defend my innocence until the end”
"Today is a sad day, truly sad for me. It’s a day in which I feel greatly disappointed and greatly deceived. As you know, two days ago I received a draft resolution for a one-year sanction from the Competition Committee.
“The way things have been until now has been shameful, the way things that should’ve been communicated officially have been leaked to the press. All this has shown me how down-and-out and how full of deficiencies this sport that I love is, the sport that I’ve given my life to and in which I’ve suffered so much to get where I am. And everything so that now, based on an obsolete rule, they want to throw it all in the dirt, so that I lose everything I’ve achieved.
"Throughout my life I’ve undergone more than 500 controls, many of them by surprise, at home, during family meals, birthdays… I’ve had to leave in the middle of movies, I’ve had to leave my friends in restaurants, but it was all because I believed in the anti-doping system. Not anymore. I do not believe in the system now.
"I know my responsibility, I know that I’m a point of reference for a lot of people, and I know what I expose myself to, that’s why I’ve never doped. I can say this loud and clear, with my head held high.
"I consider myself an example of what it is to be clean, and so I find it hard to watch the way I’m slandered every day, the way terrible things are said about me, when the only mistake I made was to eat meat without stopping to analyze it first to see if it had clenbuterol in it. Every time I go to a restaurant, will I have to take a piece of meat with me in order to check for clenbuterol?
"The people in charge of the anti-doping organizations have to reconsider this case. We’re facing a completely outdated rule, which all scientists know is not up-to-date with the current anti-doping system, which was made years ago when they couldn’t detect minimum quantities which in no way affect your performance, which are physically impossible to take voluntarily, and which in my case have in no way helped me achieve victory.
"As long as this rule remains out of date with the advances of 2011, cases of false positives will continue to occur. This rule will have to be changed; I don’t know when—whether it will be months or years from now. But meanwhile, what about me, and the people who are in a situation similar to mine? As long as this change remains unaccomplished, honest and fair sport will never be practiced, as I have always practiced it.
"When I received the one-year proposed sanction, I immediately told Bjarne Riis, and told him that I wanted to go home to be with my family and friends. But I couldn’t allow myself to forget that it’s only a draft resolution and that in these 10 days that I’ve got, I’m going to work as hard as I can with my lawyers so that justice is done.
"I’m enormously grateful to Bjarne and to my sponsors for their confidence and their unconditional support—it’s unimaginable. As leader of the team, I think that making the decision to leave is best, so that all the riders keep working as normal.
"I’m tremendously unhappy with the Competition Committee’s proposal. What’s happened during these last few months is beyond belief, and a disgrace. It’s become a soap opera and a political lawsuit with all the leaks, the baseless and malicious comments of WADA and the UCI, which I believe have played a key role in this proposed resolution.
"In the meantime, I’ve wanted to keep working, focusing on my own business, but I’ve also been on the point of exploding many times because of things that were being said. I could hardly endure it, but out of respect for the process I’ve preferred to keep some distance so that the Competition Committee can work without pressure from me, even though all that has come to nothing.
"I disagree with this proposal and I’m going to work to change it, but if that’s not how it works out, I’ll appeal wherever necessary in order to defend my innocence until the end.”
(Official press release, AC press room)
Alberto Contador at Saxo Bank training camp in Mallorca (Jaime Reina/AFP/Getty Images)
Contador will comment in a press conference at 4:00 this afternoon (9:00 a.m. US CST)
El Diario Montanes - by J.C. Carabias - Late Wednesday night, with stomachs full after a pasta-based dinner in Mallorca’s Hotel Son Net, with Laudrup seated at Bjaren Riis’ table and no one concerned about the atmosphere, Alberto Contador clinked a fork against his glass and called for attention.
Few knew the news, except for the Saxo Bank director and a few quick-on-the-draw twitterers. The winner of the Tour drew together his teammates and staff in another room and told them the verdict. He will have to serve a one-year suspension.
Contador speaks in a fragile tone, a faltering voice, especially when physically affected by worry. In the room, his tone sounded weak when he started to tell about the pushishment and, in few words, thanked everyone for their support and said that he did not expect to retire from cycling, that he wanted to fight to the finish.
Then he turned, having to retrace his steps to the sound of collective applause. “It’s a huge disappoinment for him, but he considers it a lesser evil,” his team recounted.
Contador read the proposed sanction from the Competition Committee of the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation and, after dropping the bomb, considered the positive aspects.
The spirit of the resolution is based on the principle of Strict Liability and acknowledges that the rider had no intention to dope and that the infinitessimal amount of clenbuterol (50 picograms) did not enhance his performance during the Tour.
“When all is said and done, it’s like acknowledging that he’s not guilty and that he has not deceived anyone,” team members say. “It’s a clear lack of intent.”
Also a political decision. The Committee has tried to satisfy all parties, as they say in the Federation, “because there’s a regulation to comply.” That is to say, it’s not possible to have clenbuterol in one’s system because the body does not generate it, and if it’s there, it’s due to ingestion. But they give credit to the theory of the tenderloin. Otherwise, it would have been neccesary to sanction Contador for two years, according to UCI rules.
No financial penalty
The cyclist will not have to hand over 70% of his salary (some 3 million euros) to the UCI as a fine for the positive. The regulations only apply the financial screws if the maximum punishment is levied. And he could even reappear this season in the Vuelta a España.
Spain’s grand tour starts on August 20 and the UCI provisionally suspended the cyclist on August 24th, the time at which the sanction should be enforced. However, the Committee’s proposed sanction does not specify an exact date, but rather leaves it ambiguously as “from the time the provisional suspension was communicated.”
The law firm handling Contador’s case, Bardají & Honrado, will present their defense within 10 working days before the sentence is final. It will deal with the legal particulars of the beginning of the provisional suspension. It aspires to achieve a sanction starting from the cyclist’s last day of competition (July 25th), and thus arriving at the 2011 Vuelta.
His advisors maintain that the proposal should be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), in spite of the obvious risk entailed. Valverde did not accept the proffered one-year sanction and in the end CAS sentenced him to two years.
One never knows if the cure is worse than the disease.
Contador will speak today in a press conference, and explain that he is not retiring, despite having earlier claimed that he would if they sanctioned him without riding. The UCI said yesterday that the proposal is not a definitive sanction.
Alberto Contador has been informed by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) that the Competition Committee has formed a draft resolution to sanction him for one year due to a positive test for 50 picograms of clenbuterol that appeared in his urine as a result of food contamination.
In issuing the one-year ban, the RFEC acknowledges that Alberto Contador did not commit an act of doping or deceit.
With the ban, Contador will forfeit his title as champion of the 2010 Tour de France.
We believe that this sanction is unjust. Penalizing anyone for having unwittingly picked up a trace of a banned substance from the environment is wrong. It is an act of hypocrisy.
We live in a polluted world. Each member of the bodies standing in judgment over Contador —the federation, the UCI, WADA, the public—harbors foreign substances that came into his system without his knowledge or intent. It is impossible for any citizen on earth to protect himself from this situation.
The cruel irony is that Contador—a champion who is an asset to cycling though his character and sportsmanship, and whose entertainment value can even be translated into financial terms—by virtue of his very gift and achievement as a cyclist, is faced with ruin and public disgrace.
We support Alberto Contador without reserve and await justice in the continuation of his case.
McQuaid says it's "being pragmatic" to assume that a champion training in January will not be ready for the Tour in July
With pressure mounting on Pat McQuaid and the Union Cycliste Internationale from a number of sources—among them the professional riders' union, the Novitzky investigation, and not least of all, the increasing public outcry against corruption and hypocrisy in the governing and disciplinary levels of the sport—the UCI faces the urgent need to communicate in a manner befitting its position.
Acknowledging the Sisyphean challenges confronting the organization, steps toward avoiding further dysfunction could be taken were it only to proceed with a balanced approach and measured words.
The following is an extended excerpt of an interview with Pat McQuaid which appeared today in the French paper Le Parisien.
Le Parisien - Through his office window, Pat McQuaid shows the green foothills. “Normally all this is white in January...” In his large office, whose door is always open, the Irishman settles on a sofa, swallows his coffee and covers, in French, the day's burning questions. Forty minutes later, his only regret will be to have talked “too much about doping.”
When he announced his retirement last Tuesday, Floyd Landis also said that in his opinion “cycling will never be cured” of doping. What’s your reaction to those comments?
I don’t accept much of anything that he says. Landis has done a lot of harm to our sport. And he’s still doing so. I bid him farewell and a happy retirement. But I won’t let people like him say I’m corrupt. He has no proof. He has no credibility.
Did you see the investigative report on Lance Armstrong in Sports Illustrated?
Yes. But one never knows exactly what’s happening.
Do you want to know?
No, no, no. Because sport is bigger than Lance Armstrong. Bigger than Floyd Landis or Alberto Contador. I’m not saying that Armstrong is guilty, because one must wait for the outcome of the trial. But I’m sure that cycling is cleaner than it’s ever been. It’s the cleanest of sports.
But if it ends badly for the seven-time Tour de France winner, it will be another blow for cycling...
No, I don’t think so. Armstrong will ride two or three races this year but he’s already out of cycling. And if a case comes out in the US, cycling will be able to continue. The harm will be done to the past. I work with today’s cycling.
Is Contador an example of the efficiency of your system?
Absolutely. He was caught by the Cologne laboratory which is more efficient with Clenbuterol than others. Besides, I’ll ask the anti-doping department to select a number of samples for further testing that the Lausanne laboratory was not performing.
But the season is starting and one doesn’t know who won the 2010 Tour….
It’s a great pity. But that’s the system...
Why did you say that he might miss next Tour de France?
It’s being pragmatic. If he hasn’t received any answer before March, it will be a little late to prepare for the Tour de Fance. We are waiting. We would like it to happen as soon as possible.
Are you angry with him?
Yes. I don’t want to talk about the case before it’s completed. Of course, the fact that Clenbuterol was found puts a dark shadow on last year’s Tour de France. Guilty or not guilty, Contador did us a lot of harm.
Will the UCI remain firm on the “team radios” issue that some teams want to keep?
Yes. Who wants to keep them? Bruyneel, Riis. Because they are the ones who manage the most their riders. The UCI takes decisions for the future of cycling. With the “team radios” issue, it’s becoming annoying. If some teams are at fault, sanctions will be enforced.
With what in mind are you soon to meet Bruno Genevois, the new President of the French Anti-doping Agency?
I invited him. It was time to start again considering a way of working together. I hope he is a professional.
Wasn't that the case with his predecessor, Pierre Bordry?
No, it wasn't. He went too far with the media using the UCI to criticize cycling. I’m sure he was honest and was looking for a clean sport, but it was hard working with him.
At Saxo’s pre-season camp, Contador was already ahead of his teammates in the hills
Reuters - Bjarne Riis, Saxo Bank’s manager, is anxiously awaiting a decision regarding his new leader, Alberto Contador, threatened with a two-year suspension following a positive test for Clenbuterol during the last Tour de France. The Spaniard may never wear the jersey of this team, whose sponsor committed for a year upon the Spanish rider’s signature.
Bjarne Riis, how are you coping with the expectation of a sanction against your new leader Alberto Contador?
We are concerned and we try to look after him the best we can. We have made every effort to ensure that the person I consider to be the best rider in the world join us, and it’s unthinkable that he cannot wear the Team Saxo Bank jersey.
Your sponsor, thrilled with Contador’s arrival, committed for one year after having announced his withdrawal planned for the end of 2010. What’s his attitude?
Like us, he is waiting and is not exerting any pressure. There is an ongoing case and we must respect it. Anyway, we won’t have any influence on the outcome.
And what is your feeling about Contador?
Disappointment made him say that he would end his career if he was punished. He is afraid, but still very motivated. During our pre-season training session, he was already ahead of all his teammates in the hills. I know his lawyers put together a very good defense case.
Pat McQuaid, President of the UCI, stated that Contador was unlikely to take part in the coming Tour de France ?
This is just speculation. This case is disturbing. Of course, Clenbuterol has been found in his urine but I recall that the dose was tiny. He did not win the Tour de France thanks to that, and it’s amazing that it was only visible for one day. For me, Contador is not guilty, but McQaid wants him to be suspended for a question of politics only.
If he is punished, all your plans will have to be revised?
I don’t want to think about it. For the moment we are working normally as if the season were soon to begin for him.
And if he pulls through, will you make him take part in the three 2011 Grand Tours ?
I would like to take this bet with him in 2011, but I don’t have the right team to support him. It will be for later.
This Contador affair occurs the year of the creation of Team Leopard around the Schleck brothers, Fabian Cancellara, your ex-associate Kim Andersen, and many other members of Saxo Bank team. How are you coping with this?
I would have preferred a different situation but that's cycling. From 17 to 20 people, I don’t know exactly, left Saxo Bank and that forced me to question ourselves. I probably have a less-strong team in most areas but it’s still a good team.
Nick Nuyens will be a very good leader for the classics, Richie Porte is exceptionally talented, his margin for progress is huge, and in a year or two he will become a Tour de France protagonist.
Bradley McGee is the world’s best directeur sportif, and his new associate, Frenchman Philippe Mauduit (coming from Cervelo), is top quality.
I’ll tell you a secret: I feel more relaxed than last year. 2010 was very complicated.
In the last Tour of Spain, you excluded Andy Schleck because he went out for a drink in a bar one evening. Would you have done it if he had stayed in your team?
Yes! There are rules that should not be disobeyed. On the other hand, as I paid him until the end of the year, he could ride until then. As could others who I knew would also leave.
Translated from the French by Christine Kahane
Astana's general manager in 2010, Yvon Sanquer, discusses conditions surrounding the team's non-renewal of his contract
VeloChrono - by Alexandre Phillipon - Yvon Sanquer, general manager of the Astana team since January 2010, will not remain in this post in 2011: the Olympus SARL corporation, with which he managed the Kazakh outfit, has indeed been replaced by Abacanto SA.
Sanquer explains the circumstances of the break-up of this collaboration, occurring after a “progressive isolation from team management” which led to a “ban on any contact, leading, as time went by, to the necessity of taking legal action."
The French manager reacts now through a press release he calls “The truth and nothing but the truth,” an epistle drafted in the interests of transparency. “I don’t want my long silence to suggest I have anything to hide or to blame myself for.”
“I was hired by Astana as general manager in October 2009 with the objective of making of Astana a team like any other: respectful of financial, legal and ethical issues, while preserving its uniqueness in the sports world, including the best rider in the world—Alberto Contador—and respecting its singularity of being sponsored by a State," he explains.
“On the one hand, I was supposed to obtain a Pro Tour license, and on the other, to establish structures that were greatly lacking in the Astana team. In each of my approaches, I took into consideration and respected the national investment and the patriotic Kazakh spirit of the Kazakh government, as well as the importance of the role of Alexander Vinokourov.
"However, the situation in which the Astana team happened to find itself, as well as the image it projected, required the establishment of appropriate and new working methods. Once the team was rescued—registered for 2010—I was rapidly convinced that the Kazakh leaders had hired me to be their moral guarantee and their showcase.
“I got the feeling that the decision of Astana managers to break off their collaboration with me was taken early last season. I could feel it as early as the month of May.
“During the first meeting concerning the negotiation regarding the renewal of Alberto Contador’s contract, at the beginning of last May, his manager and his advisor nevertheless expressed to the Astana representative the Spanish champion’s satisfaction as to our collaboration.”
“Furthermore, originally I had played a leading part in Contador’s decision to carry on riding under the colours of Astana in 2011. He personally intervened so that I should continue as general manager for the coming years.
“However, at the end of the Giro d’Italia, and after a meeting held on May 31, 2010 with the top management of Astana for the purpose of studying the future and more precisely the recruitment for 2011, my e-mails requesting clarification on the team project remained unanswered.”
The former manager of the National Cycling League is proud of Alberto Contador’s Tour de France victory, in which “he remained fully involved”. He recounts that the Pistolero won the race “without anyone questioning his honesty at the time."
“On this level, I completed the mission that had been entrusted to me, thanks to the unwavering support of the partners as well as that of almost all the staff, their hard work, as well as that of the riders in a sometimes difficult setting.”
On August 3, just a few days after the Champs Elysées celebration, Yvon Sanquer was notified of the end of his collaboration with Astana.
Photo of Yvon Sanquer at the 2010 Volta ao Algarve by Christine Kahane for the Alberto Contador Notebook. Translation by Christine Kahane)
The Spanish Federation has sent the Pinto cyclist’s legal arguments to the UCI and WADA
El País - by C.A. - The world of cycling sticks to its normal pace, and in January it starts to shake itself awake. New teams are introduced, new jerseys, new names—Leopard, Movistar, Europcar—; the peloton prepares itself to roll out in races in Australia and Argentina, in the austral summer; the Vuelta will announce its route next Wednesday; and the Contador case—his team, Saxo Bank, will be encamped at Fuerteventura in ten days—continues along its labyrinthine route from office to office.
The latest twist, which will push back his first resolution a litte further, was produced a few days ago, when the Competition Committee of the Spanish Cycling Federation decided to send the Union Cycliste Intenationale (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) the documents and scientific studies that make up the nucleus of Alberto Contador’s legal arguments for explaining how the 50 picograms of clenbuterol found in his urine in a control during the last Tour can be accounted for by the ingestion of contaminated meat.
“The UC and WADA delayed for weeks in passing us the hot potato of ruling on the Contador issue, and we think that it is they who ought to get involved,” explain sources close to the Federation in order to account for this flippant undermining of the proceedings, for the rules of the UCI indicate that the first instance of justice in sport falls to the national federations, and that afterwards, if they don’t agree on the decision, the international bodies reserve the right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“If the UCI and WADA, after studying the documents presented by Contador’s defense, decide that they have to sanction, we sanction; if they decide the contrary, we don’t sanction,” added the Federation.
The cyclist from Pinto, who is serving a provisional suspension since the 24th of last August, could receive a sanction of from three months to two years. “So, not only will they not be able to accuse us of letting ourselves judge with a patriotic bias, but we can shorten the process, since if the UCI and WADA agree with our decision, they won’t appeal to CAS.”
The party who will appeal to CAS, if the decision is not satisfactory, will be Contador himself.
While WADA still has not responded to the Federation’s request, the UCI has replied that it will study the documentation and respond on January 23 or 24. The documentation has also been sent to the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency.
Never, in Spain nor in any other country, has a step like this been taken by a federation.
UCI commits to voicing its opinion on case to Spanish Cycling Federation early in last week of January
Diario Córdoba - by Sergi Lopez-Egea - The scientific reports that Alberto Contador has handed over to the Competition Committee of the Spanish Cycling Federation defending that the presence of clenbuterol in his system is due to food contamination detected in Lausanne.
The Federation judges have decided to send Contador’s legal arguments to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) for their opinion before pronouncing a verdict, so as to avoid, if possible, the case ending up in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Also, they’ve asked that the UCI update the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on the arguments that different specialists have delineated defending Contador’s version, countering any argument that he doped.
The UCI has committed to giving an answer to the Spanish Federation at the beginning of the last week of January. At that time, the Competition Committee will have all the arguments on the table necessary to rule on the case, which has already stretched to over five months.
At any rate, no resolution is expected until February. Contador will attend training camp with his team, Saxo Bank, at the end of January, which will take place in Fuerteventura. The three-time Tour champion is convinced that his arguments are “beyond dispute” and that they prove that he has committed no infraction of the rules.
According to news released on Christmas Day, Alberto Contador is pre-registered to ride the XXXI Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia in the first week of March. Contador’s new team, Saxo Bank-SunGard, is also said to have entered the names of Jesús Hernández and Lucas Sebastian Haedo.
Originally scheduled to take place March 2-6, race organizers announced today that the five-stage tour will be curtailed due a funding shortfall. They’ve opted to continue with a reduced format of three days, beginning Friday, March 4, which, according to Spanish sports daily Biciciclismo, could increase entertainment value for fans.
The re-vamped route will include a flat stage, a mountain stage and a 20-kilometer time trial in the capital, thus providing a suitable challenge for every type of rider, in a similar manner to the Criterium International. The official route will be finalized by next week.
Eleven of a total of 12 or 13 teams have been confirmed so far; Saxo Bank-SunGard is not one of them. Four Pro Tour teams—Movistar, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Rabobank and Vacansoleil—will be joined by Geox-TMC (led by Carlos Sastre), Caja Rural, Andalucía-CajaGranada, Skil-Shimano, UnitedHealthcare, Endura Racing and the Russian national team.
The 2011 edition represents Alberto Contador’s second participation at Murcia. He competed in 2008, just three weeks after being notified that his team, Astana, had been banned from all ASO races that season, including the Tour de France. Alberto finished third in a close race, 0:06 behind winner Alejandro Valverde, and 0:02 behind second-placed Stefano Garzelli.
Alberto Contador missed victory in Murcia by six seconds that year, but achieved the highest step on the final podium in every subsequent stage race that he attempted. Murcia was followed by overall victories at Castilla y León and País Vasco, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, bringing to a close the magnificent season of the Triple Crown.
Former amateur-ranked cyclist Riestra, who rode against Eddy Merckx at Paris-Nice, is now a livestock farmer with a social conscience in Asturias
Spanish cattle farmers: “Sanctioning Contador would be unfair, as well as unwise”
Ramón Riestra (ASAJA) sends a letter to Pat McQuaid
AS.com - Ramón Riestra, a member of the board of directors of the Asturias chapter of the ASAJA (Asociación Agraria Jóvenes Agricultores), has already blown the whistle on the importation into Spain of cattle fattened illegally with clenbuterol in the pages of AS. This cattle farmers’ association believes that Alberto Contador’s theory, which attributes his positive to having consumed a piece of contamined veal tenderloin purchased in Irún, is indeed quite possible.
Riestra wanted to pursue the matter further, and has followed through by sending a letter (dated December 22) to Pat McQuaid, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale, explaining his theory:
“The purpose of the letter before you is to inform you that in March of this year the Union of Spanish Cattle Farmers (ASAJA) spoke out against the European Community’s manner of purchasing hundreds of thousands of tons of beef from Mercosur (Argentine, Paraguay, Brasil, etc.).
“It was protested then because in these countries the use of anabolic steroids is permitted in the fattening of livestock. As a consequence, a great majority of the European consumers—especially in countries with a shortage of meat like Spain, Italy and Greece—is consuming these products.”
“Mr. McQuaid, there is a great lassitude by the political class towards the citizenry and, as a consequence of it, corruption at the level of of the big meat-importing companies. This accounts for thousands of millions of euros, and if the agricultural unions and the sporting institutions in particular do not confront these bad practices, it’s possible that in future anabolic substances will be in the blood of our athletes and the majority of the population. As a result, you must communicate this to Brussels and to the other institutions (the Olympic Committee, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, etc.) because they must not pander to that corruption.”
“In consequence of all that I put forward, I believe that the sanction that they are trying to impose on Alberto Contador is unfair, as well as unwise.”
“It’s necessay to for us to shake up this political blight that does not respect the rights of society in its multiple strata, and in the meantime be damned cautious in the application of the disciplinary regulations, which I support, as you well know.”
GO TO IN THE PRESS 2010
Alberto Contador's 2nd Tour de France, and much more
GO TO IN THE PRESS 2009
Press coverage from The Year of the Triple Crown
GO TO IN THE PRESS 2008