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Giro 08 st. 20

Photo credits: El Mundo; Juan Gutierrez; Reuters; F. Salvatierra; Newsletter logo - Graham Watson for The Paceline
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May 1- Fran defends the family name in Morocco

“The shoe’s on the other foot: he’s on vacation and we’re racing”

I'm not Alberto Since his victory in the Vuelta al País Vasco, Alberto Contador has been on vacation. What’s more, he went without his cellphone, to avoid being required–like last year—to ride the Giro.

Nevertheless, while the winner of the Triple Crown enjoys a well-deserved rest, another Contador is defending the family’s good name in Nissan Titan Desert. That’s Fran, his older brother, who since last year has served as manager, secretary, and director of public relations for Alberto.

“The shoe’s on the other foot,” explains Fran in the haima, the traditional Moroccan tent that makes shift as a restaurant. “While he’s at the beach drinking ice-cold Coca-Cola, we’re racing.” He speaks in the plural because with him, forming the rest of the “Contador Curaçao Team” are Jorge Ramos, Francisco Salvatierra and Patricio García. They all form an intimate circle of friends and, above all, the “grupeta” that’s always available to train with him.

Fran is the culprit by whose hand Alberto became a cyclist. “When I passed my entrance exams, they bought me a new bicycle, so my old one went to my brother.” With it, the heavy ironmongery of the day, Alberto started to race, and to win, in federation races. “We both liked watching the Tour, the Giro, the Vuelta…It was the age of Induráin. I remember that we also watched Freire’s first world championship win together.”

Fran, nevertheless, had to quit cycling in favor of his studies. “There are people who are capable of doing both things, but I’m not.” Not without sacrifice, he qualified in industrial engineering as a technical engineer, a profession that he had to leave in 2008, in order to take care of things for his brother. “Except for the press office, which is run by Jacinto Vidarte, I take care of everything, including his localizations,” WADA’s famous antidoping system. “I see to his contracts, financial matters, sponsors, events…a little of everything.”

Intensive training

But, even though the days sometimes have more than 24 hours, he always goes out to train on the bike. “Last year I did around 12,000 kilometers,” not bad. “Sometimes I go out with my brother, because he likes for someone to go with him, but when he’s on a long ride, I catch him when he’s already been out for a couple of hours. There are days that are torture, that make our tongues hang out."

Fran Contador is not fighting for victory in Titan Desert. “We came to complete it,” he explains in relation to the team, the group of lifelong friends from Pinto. “And I reminded everybody that I’m not Alberto before they even had time to comment,” although he’s no slouch, either. “I didn’t come to compete,” he inisists, even though a top-notch team wanted him to sign. “I’d just be in the way of the professionals,” he adds with humility.

Not without difficulties, above all because his bicycle is on the verge of falling apart, Fran continues the race. “Titan is living up to what I expected. I’m liking it. The problem is that I don’t have an all-terrain bike, that’s why sometimes things don’t go well.”

Before, during and after the stages, everybody asks questions about Alberto. “Wow, that’s some genius you’ve got at home,” they say to him. “And what about Armstrong?” And Fran responds patiently to everybody, because “the best thing about Titan is everyone being together, the ambiance after the stages and the friends that you make.” The worst thing is clear. “For me, the sand and the stones—they grind your ass to a powder. Luckily, the heat has shown us respect in these first few days.”

If there’s been a moment that could be called bad, it would’ve been the night under the stars, in the marathon stage. “I really miss a mattress, because my back is stiff. If there’s anything that would make me head for home, that’s it: sleeping on a mattress.”

Alberto, meanwhile, follows his exploits from afar. “One day he sent a message, but I know, via my mother, that he sends me great encouragement. When I get home I’m going to say: I’ve got a trophy too,” the one that everyone receives who finishes Titan Desert, the hardest mountain bike race in the world.

"No somos uno, no somos dos, somos el pueblo de Contador"
We’re not just one or two people, we’re the city of Contador. That’s the motto of the Contador Curaçao Team, who, even in Morocco, make their voices heard. (Josu Garai, MARCA) (Translation by ACNb)

Fran at Giro stage 16

Fran Contador was present to support Alberto at the 2008 Giro
(Alessandro Trovati/AP Photo)

Top photo: Fran determined to finish Titan Desert (Josu Garai/MARCA)

All text © 2007-2008 Rebecca Bell, contadorfans@hotmail.com.

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