Paris (AFP) — Two-time winner of the Tour de France, Alberto Contador, currently suspended, is conspicuously absent from the 99th edition of the Tour, which starts Saturday Liege, Belgium.
“The absent are always wrong,” said Tour director Christian Prudhomme. “Once the Tour has begun, you stop thinking about it.”
But Prudhomme has recognized the importance of Contador at the 2011 edition, as the Spaniard animated with his repeated attacks.
“I do not deny that course on the Tour in 2011, he had a dynamic effect on the race; he was a catalyst for energy,” said Prudhomme. “He is a rider who knows how to use the road, who is capable of riding on instinct. I remember his attack to the Col de Manse (on the approach to Gap). The Tour had run 20 times over the Manse… and nothing had ever held. He was fired.
“He can reshuffle the cards anywhere on any part of the course.”
The overall winner in 2007 and 2009, Contador tested positive during the Tour in 2010 for minute traces of clenbuterol and is serving a suspension that ends on August 5. Contador has signed with Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank and will return to racing in August, with the Vuelta a España on his schedule.