|10. Inspiration and Support
Thousands of cancer patients know that Lance Armstrong commemorates
the date October 2nd, 1996. Armstrong, whose name symbolizes victory,
received diagnosis that day, and his epic battle with testicular cancer
The corresponding date in Alberto Contador’s life is May 12th.
On that Monday in 2004, Contador collapsed due to a congenital vascular
condition. His journey through surgery, uncertainty, and recovery has
shaped his character profoundly.
A month in the hospital and six months under the watchful eye
of doctors, when he was forbidden to cycle, blessed him with a rare
opportunity: time to think deeply about life, his career, and his prospects
for the future.
During this time, he studied the example of Armstrong.
“He was my inspiration. He is a champion. I admire him tremendously.
When I read his book for the first time, I didn’t pay attention to the
details about cancer. The second time, it was in the hospital. There,
I read it with great interest, and it gave me courage.”
Another source of support was Manolo Saiz. The former directeur
sportif at ONCE and Liberty-Seguros has been in the hot seat since the
spring of 2006, embroiled in the doping scandal that has preoccupied cycling’s
In typical tabloid fashion, Saiz’s character has been simplified
and maligned in the press. Anyone who remembers his arms around Joseba
Beloki, after that disastrous crash in the Tour 2003, knows there’s more
to the man’s true nature than what has appeared lately in the rags.
Said Contador of Saiz’s behavior during his illness, “the accident
made us much closer. My parents knew Manolo by what they read in the press,
where sometimes he doesn’t have good critics. They found someone who
was always there for their son, not knowing even if he could still race.”
“My parents were amazed. In a world where money prevails, Manolo
did his utmost for me and my family. We will be grateful to him forever.”
On November 17, 2004, Contador took control of his own destiny.
Protected by a loving family, inspired by a hero, and supported by a
bulwark, he did something that astounded his doctors.
He climbed on a bicycle and started to train.
2004 Tour de France
Copyright © Pete Geyer
Copyright © Pete Geyer
|Race Report, Stage 10
Tallard-Marseille – 229.5km
Today’s stage ended uneventfully for Alberto Contador. Contador
and the other GC leaders used the flat stage to get back to normal after
the drama of the Alps.
“Today we were okay, even though the tempo at the start was violent,
and the road was bad. Everybody wanted to get into the breakaway, so
it was difficult. We rode very fast until kilometer 70, but later things
calmed down, because the best rider in the breakaway was at 24 minutes,”
At the end of the day the pace changed again. “The last climb
was aggressive, but not a problem. It’s been a boring stage, like all
long stages,” he said.
Although it was dull, the stage wasn’t restful. “With the high
temperatures we’ve had, the road in bad shape and so many kilometers,
it’s impossible to talk about recovery, but we’ve certainly been more
comfortable than in the last few days.”
Tomorrow is another one just like the other one, a transitional
stage leading up to the time trial at Albi on Saturday.
Alberto’s results today:
Stage 10 42nd 10:36
Young rider 10th 9:35
Young rider 1st