Contador Has Giro Success, But Unsure About Tour

MILAN, May 29, 2011 – Spain’s Alberto Contador of the Saxo Bank team secured his second Tour of Italy title on Sunday, after Scot David Millar of Garmin won the final stage time trial in Milan, but promptly voiced doubts on his plans for the Tour de France.

The 28-year-old, who came into the Giro in the shadow of a doping controversy regarding last year’s Tour de France, dominated the event, spending the bulk of the 94th edition in the leader’s pink jersey.

Although Millar took the plaudits with his swashbuckling showing in the 26km final stage, the headlines will belong to Contador, should he now normally seek to use the win as a springboard to a fourth Tour de France triumph.

But barely had he stepped off the podium than the Iberian was suggesting things weren’t as simple as that as he refused to confirm whether or not he would even show up.

“The Tour? We shall have to see… how I am going to recuperate, evaluate the extent to which I have recuperated. I have to speak about it with my sporting director and my team,” he said.

“Right now I am tired and I would like to profit from my victory.”

Victory in Paris the most prestigious of the three Grand Tours would make Contador the first man to achieve a Giro-Tour double since late Italian racer Marco Pantani in 1998.

With three other Grand Tour successes — including two in the Giro and one in the Tour of Spain — Contador has made it a half dozen successes in the sport’s showpiece stage races.

He has to add a further five to equal the record of legendary Belgian Eddy Merckx, however, but is only one behind seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.

For now he can bask in the moment, even though he could yet have his aura punctured if the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) finds against him in his ongoing doping saga.

The case concerning Contador was due to be heard before CAS over three days in Lausanne from June 6-8 in order to have the decision before the start of this year’s Tour de France on July 2.

But CAS announced last Thursday that it had postponed the hearing indefinitely to allow further preparation and to help guarantee the
participation in person of witnesses and experts.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and world cycling’s governing body (UCI) are appealing the Spanish Cycling Federation’s (RFEC) decision to acquit Contador over a failed doping case.

Contador, who placed third on the final stage and gave his triumphant ‘pistolero’ gesture of joy at the end, tested positive for a tiny amount of the banned muscle-building substance clenbuterol during last July’s Tour, which he went on to win.

But he was cleared to compete when the RFEC rescinded an initial decision to hand down a one-year competition ban, accepting the rider’s claim that he had unknowingly consumed drug-contaminated meat and was therefore not negligent.

Despite the complex legal wrangle, Contador has not let the issue affect his racing and appears to be in the form of his life, shrugging off all comers in a particularly tough mountainous edition that saw eight stages finish at altitude.

On his second Italian win he said that “this one is completely different. Three years ago I didn’t want to come – it was my team which insisted on it. I thought I’d do a week but then the results started coming and I stayed on.

“This time I prepared the race mentally and physically.

“This is my best Giro. It seems an easy victory – but it isn’t – it required a lot of work.”

Home racer Michele Scarponi took second place in the overall standings, more than 5min behind Contador after a gruelling 3265km since the race started in Turin on May 7. Another Italian, Vincenzo Nibali, was third overall.

Once he finished first on the slopes of Mount Etna in the ninth stage to don the pink jersey Contador never looked back as he succeeded last year’s Italian champion Ivan Basso, who did not participate this time.

Millar at least had the consolation of signing off with a win as he edged out Dane Alex Rasmussen of HTC by 7sec to win in 30min 13sec.

The Scot spent a brief moment in pink himself but the day was darkened by tragedy after Belgian Wouter Weylandt died following a crash on stage three.

Stage
1. David Millar (GBR/GRM) 26km in 30min 13sec, 2. Alex Rasmussen (DEN/HTC)
0:07, 3. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) 0:36, 4. Richie Porte (AUS/SAX) 0:43, 5.
Yaroslav Popovych (UKR/RSH) 0:55, 6. Jos van Emden (NED/RAB) 1:02, 7. Cameron
Meyer (AUS/GRM) 1:04, 8. Patrick Gretsch (GER/HTC) 1:08, 9. Tiago Machado
(POR/RSH) 1:12, 10. Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR/HTC) 1:16, 11. Vincenzo Nibali
(ITA/LIQ) 1:18, 12. Matteo Montaguti (ITA/ALM) 1:19, 13. Vasili Kiryienka
(BLR/MOV) 1:22, 14. Kristof Vandewalle (BEL/QST) 1:24, 15. Sebastian Lang
(GER/OLO) 1:26, 16. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) 1:26, 17. Michele Scarponi
(ITA/LAM) 1:28, 18. Rick Flens (NED/RAB) 1:28, 19. Ignatas Konovalovas
(LTU/MOV) 1:30, 20. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/RAB) 1:31.

Overall
1. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) 84:05.14, 2. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) at
6:10, 3. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) 6:56, 4. John Gadret (FRA/ALM) 10:17, 5.
Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 11:05, 6. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) 11:28, 7. Jose
Rujano Guillen (VEN/AND) 12:12, 8. Denis Menchov (RUS/GEO) 12:18, 9. Steven
Kruijswijk (NED/RAB) 13:51, 10. Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR/HTC) 14:10, 11. Mikel
Nieve (ESP/EUS) 16:08, 12. Hubert Dupont (FRA/ALM) 18:06, 13. Dario Cataldo
(ITA/QST) 18:23, 14. David Arroyo (ESP/MOV) 26:56, 15. Christophe Le Mevel
(FRA/GRM) 32:08, 16. Johann Tschopp (SUI/BMC) 35:20, 17. Matteo Carrara
(ITA/VAC) 37:08, 18. Igor Anton (ESP/EUS) 37:39, 19. Paolo Tiralongo
(ITA/AST) 38:21, 20. Tiago Machado (POR/RSH) 39:59.

Selected
22. Peter Stetina (USA/GRM) at 50:09.
81. Richie Porte (AUS/SAX) 2:46.57.
100. David Millar (GBR/GRM) 3:14.39.

Article:AFP
Photo:Corvos

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