FIUGGI, Italy (VN) – Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) says he’s being careful in what he eats in Italy as he makes a run for the pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia.
Speaking on RAI TV following the sixth stage, Contador also said he’s letting his lawyers handle his ongoing doping case and is trying to stay concentrated on winning a second Giro crown.
“Everything we eat is only what comes from our team,” Contador said on RAI. “It’s a different manner to race. I am completed concentrated on this race. I am confident in the people who are working on the case.”
Journalists asked more than a dozen questions, but no one asked Contador about his ongoing clenbuterol case until the very final question. Contador tested positive for banned substance in last year’s Tour de France, but blames it on contaminated meat brought to France from Spain.
CAS officials have promised a decision before the start of July’s Tour, but Contador is clear to race and has a valid racing license since the Spanish federation cleared him in mid-February.
Unsure if he will be cleared to race the Tour later this summer, Contador has made the Giro his first major goal of the season. Much to the delight of Italian fans, he called the Giro a “special race.”
“The Giro is special with a unique charm. That’s why I am happy to be here,” Contador said. “My 2008 Giro victory brings back some great memories. It’s the race that I remember the most. The Italian people supported me so much. I felt like I was at home. This year, I come with more pressure, but I am better prepared. The public is treating me with just the same warmth.”
Contador didn’t want to add more fuel to the raging debate about whether the gravel “strade bianche” belong in the Giro d’Italia, though he did confirm comments from yesterday when he called the stage dangerous.
“Yesterday’s stage was complicated and difficult. It’s a type of terrain that you never race on. There was a risk of falls. You have a lot on the line. You could lose the race, so you had to respect the stage a lot. … I think there were 40 crashes,” he said. “For the polemic, you have to leave it behind. The stage was already from yesterday. Luckily, there were not any big problems, now we’ll continue with the race.”
Contador went on to say he feels more tension in the Tour, but admits that the Giro commands respect.
“What’s unique about the Giro is that there’s never an easy, calm day. You have to always be on the alert,” he said. “The tension is bigger at the Tour. At the Giro, you always have a final climb, a dangerous curve, something that makes a difference.”
He singled out Vicenzo Nibali and Michele Scarponi as his most dangerous rivals and said the Giro will be decided in the final week.
“I know that I am a marked man in the Giro as the favorite, but over the past few years, I have grown used to the fact that they are always vigilante about me,” he said. “I always have big respect for my rivals. Just as much as Nibali, Scarponi will be a dangerous rival. There will be days that one might be stronger than the other, but the key to this Giro is to never have a bad day.”
On the death of Wouter Weylandt, Contador said it was a “very difficult moment.”
“It’s impossible to describe and articulate the feelings at this moment. You think about how fast we go, how steep the descents are, you think that anything could happen,” he said. “How could you forget what happened? He was a great rider. He won a stage in last year’s Giro and won a stage in the Vuelta. He was loved by the fans and he will always be in our hearts.”