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Sunday, July 8, 2007

1. Profile
by Rebecca Bell

Alberto Contador Velasco is the newest weapon in the arsenal of Discovery Channel Team. Contador, a native of Madrid, is a gifted all-rounder, a budding team leader who is especially strong in the mountains. He was enlisted to fulfill a particular mission for the team: to win.

Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel
Copyright © Liz Kreutz


Born on December 6, 1982, at 24 years old he has already built a handsome list of victories. Having turned professional in 2003 with Manolo Saiz’s ONCE team, Contador began collecting impressive finishes immediately.  A stage victory in the Tour of Poland, high rankings at Castilla y León and Setmana Catalana (2004), and King of the Mountains in the Vuelta a Aragon (2004) were early steps by a fiery rider who appeared to be unstoppable.

But on May 12, 2004, during the first stage of the Vuelta a Asturias, Contador experienced a bleedout in his brain that led to a crash and nearly ended his life. In his own words,

It was on the first stage of the Vuelta a Asturias. I was having some headaches a few days before and it felt like a vein was bleeding in my head while I was doing the stage. In fact, the bleeding was so bad that I started having convulsions and fell off the bike, and was lying unconscious on the side of the road. Then, 10 days later, I had the same thing at home. Later, they did some medical tests and I underwent surgery at a hospital in Madrid. After six months being off, I start riding again and I made my debut in Australia. The problem seems to be fixed and appears it won't happen again.

Far from being immobilized by severe trauma, Alberto was back in the saddle in 2005, resuming his trajectory of stage wins, top five finishes, points and young rider jerseys. Again with Saiz’s team in its new incarnation, Liberty Seguros, Contador celebrated his return to form with a win at Adelaide in Stage 5 of the Tour Down Under, the overall win at Setmana Catalana, and his impressive first showing at the Tour de France.

Alberto Contador, 2006 Paris-Nice
Alberto Contador always gives it his all
2006 Paris-Nice Prologue
photo: Pete Geyer

2006 saw the downfall of the Liberty Seguros team. During the scandal-ridden season, Contador was sidelined by bad luck once again. Due to the Operación Puerto affair, he was one of nine riders not allowed to start at the Tour de France.

According toVeloNews:  Though he was one of nine riders forced out ahead of the start of the Tour, none other than Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes himself, who said he never worked with Contador, cleared him. A Spanish court later formally cleared him of any link to the doping investigation.

Unfortunately, one month later a crash after crossing the finish line in Stage 5 of the Vuelta a Burgos kept him out of competition until signing with Discovery Channel in January, 2007.  

Alberto Contador rode with thrilling ferocity and outstanding courage at Paris-Nice 2007, scorching the pavement and blazing across the final finish line to win the overall title in one of pro cycling’s landmark annual contests. As he mounted the podium, exchanging his white young rider’s jersey for the maillot jaune, he became only the second Spaniard in history to win that title. His predecessor in that place of honor: Miguel Indurain.

Contador seems destined for great things. The talk in the cycling world is full of excited praise for a young man who has overcome adversity and who is ready now to compete for the highest honors in the sport.

Alberto Contador, Solvang camp
Copyright © Liz Kreutz

Race Report, Stage 1
London - Canterbury, 203 km

Alberto Contador achieved his goal of completing a peaceful ride today, crossing the line in the bunch with the winner’s time. Not all riders were so lucky. A crash near the end shook up part of the peloton, including at least one of the Discovery boys.

“It’s a shame that the stage finished with Benjamin Noval’s fall, but I hope it was nothing”, began Contador, in comments about the first stage of the Tour 2007. “There’s been an impressive number of fans along the road. I don’t know how many, but it’s surely more than a million people. I think it’s been a complete success bringing the Tour to England, but you can tell the majority don’t know about cycling, because they don’t know any of the riders’ names.”

Contador reported that he felt “very well in this stage, no problems. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve got more experience, but I haven’t had as many feelings of danger or tension as I had in the first Tour that I did.”

“Benjamin had been looking after me all day and was doing exceptional work. But at the very moment he dropped behind to help another teammate, he took a massive spill.”

Contador finished 44th. A tenacious ride by new KOM David Millar, who moved to 3rd on the GC, bumped Contador to 16th overall, still 35” off first place.
Translations by Christine Kahane

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Alberto Contador banner design: Nicky Orr   Banner photo: Christine Kahane

Alberto Contador wallpaper
Alberto Contador Wallpaper

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