- It was business as usual, at least during the podium presentation, as Contador received his best climber's jersey
- Contador stepped off the podium to find swarms of photographers swooping in for their shots
- The press corps following the Volta a Catalunya quadrupled Thursday as dozens of journalists showed up
- Contador said he found out about the UCI appeal just moments after crossing the line
- Contador briefly answered a few questions, expressing his disappointment that the case appealed yet hoping his day in court will demonstrate his innocence
- Contador was putting on a brave face, but inside, he was bitterly disappointed
- Contador can count on the support of the Spanish fans, but they won't decide if he'll be banned. His fate is now in the hands of CAS.
EL VENDRELL, Spain (VN) – Alberto Contador vows to finish the Volta a Catalunya and will keep racing despite the UCI’s decision to appeal his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
A defiant Contador spoke briefly with dozens of journalists who showed up Thursday at the Volta a Catalunya to document his reaction to the news of the UCI decision to challenge the Spanish federation’s ruling to clear him of clenbuterol charges.
“Right now I am thinking about the Giro,” Contador said. “Of course, I would have liked the situation to have been different. I would have liked that they didn’t appeal, but I have full confidence in my lawyers.”
The UCI waited until the last day before a deadline to reveal its intentions of appealing the February decision by the Spanish cycling federation to clear Contador, who tested positive for traces of clebuterol last July.
Hanging in the balance is a possible two-year ban and disqualification from this 2010 Tour de France victory.
On Thursday, Contador reiterated his innocence against the doping allegations and said that documents provided by his legal team demonstrate that the only possibility of how the banned muscle-builder entered his system was via contamination from steaks he ate during the Tour.
“I have confidence that documentation will support my case and maybe going to CAS will prove my innocence even more,” Contador said. “They (the UCI’s legal team) had to really study the documentation and I am sure they have never seen a more complete and detailed dossier. I don’t want to guess on what their motivations are (the UCI), but the experts and the scientists agree that I am innocent.”
Riis didn’t tell Contador of decision during race
Thursday’s UCI announcement was released just as Contador was rolling out of La Seu d’Urgell in the shadows of the Pyrenees to start the hilly, 195km fourth stage at the Volta.
Contador was already on edge before the start of the stage, quietly holding out hope that the UCI would decide not to file an appeal.
Saxo Bank-Sungard sport director Bjarne Riis told VeloNews he decided it was better to not share the disappointing news with Contador for fear it would distract him during his first day in the race leader’s jersey.
“I didn’t tell him. I wanted him to have his head in the race,” Riis told VeloNews. “Of course, we knew of the possibility (of an appeal), so I cannot say if it’s a surprise. This case has not been easy from the start.”
Riis said that the best thing Contador can do is to keep racing and let the Spaniard’s legal team handle the work to prepare the case ahead of a hearing before CAS.
“He will keep racing. I don’t see any reason for him to stop racing. He cannot change the decision, so why stop racing? It’s not in our hands,” Riis continued. “It’s better for him to keep concentrated on his job. We will stay in the race and prepare for the Giro. That’s what we do.”
As the race unfolded, the news of the UCI decision was blasted worldwide, but Contador remained oblivious inside the bubble of the peloton.
“I didn’t realize until I crossed the finish line,” said Contador, who finished in the main pack to retain his leader’s jersey. “Today (the stage) was like any other.”