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Contador hints he will return with Saxo Bank, targets Vuelta

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Apr. 17, 2012
Contador said he would likely return with Bjarne Riis to Saxo Bank, citing unconditional support from the team. Photo: Robertson/VeloDramatic

Alberto Contador will likely return to Saxo Bank and target the Vuelta a España when his racing ban ends in August.

Breaking his media silence Monday, Contador spoke at length on Spanish radio about his controversial clenbuterol case that resulted in disqualification from the overall wins at the 2010 Tour de France and the 2011 Giro d’Italia, among other results.

Contador is officially off the Saxo Bank team, but he said that returning to Bjarne Riis’ team was his preference despite offers from six major teams.

“I feel blessed, considering the situation that I find myself, in that there have been a lot of high-level teams who have been in contact with my brother (his agent, Fran). Six, among them Movistar,” Contador told Cadena Cope. “Without a doubt, returning to Saxo Bank is my first choice. They did something that no other team would be capable of doing; they supported me unconditionally, from the manager to the sponsor… There are better financial offers, but unconditional support has no price.”

Contador’s ban ends in early August and the Spanish climber said he was planning to jump back into the action at the first possible moment.

He will likely race the Eneco Tour and the Clásica San Sebastián before starting the Vuelta a España in mid-August. He also hopes to be selected for the world championships in the Netherlands.

“For the first time I can confirm I will race the Vuelta,” Contador said. “The Vuelta means a lot to me, I am super motivated. I will arrive to the race with fresh legs.”

Contador won the 2008 Vuelta, but said there is no guarantee he will be able to win again, especially following a six-month forced stop due to his racing ban.

“Cycling is not like math. A lot of factors come into play and anything can happen,” he said. “I am working hard, sacrificing more than ever and trying to get through this period in the best way possible. … I made some tests and I had the best results ever.”

Contador also spoke at length about his controversial clenbuterol case.

“They have done a lot of damage to me. It’s difficult to forget, but life goes on and I have to put this to one side. It’s been a hard past few months. I would never wish what I have been through the past two years on my worse enemy,” he said. “I never opened the newspaper, Internet banned, I wanted to push it off to one side and stay concentrated on my bike.”

Contador also reiterated his argument that he is not guilty of doping, saying that the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to uphold his adverse test from the 2010 Tour’s second rest day is “proof that sport justice does not work.”

“It’s still difficult to understand that all this happened, above all because I consider myself 100 percent committed to the anti-doping struggle,” he said. “I have always been extremely careful about everything I’ve done, recognizing that I am an example to many people… There were moments when I felt like giving up. It was desperate. When you do everything possible, working three times as hard as you work to win a Tour, a Giro or a Vuelta, to demonstrate my innocence, to defend your honor, and then in the end they give you a two-year ban, well, sometimes you just want to give up.”

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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