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Saturday, July 21, 2007
13. Tour 2006: A Personal Account
by Rebecca Bell

When his team was excluded from competition at last year’s Tour de France, Contador’s hopes were dashed. Here, he tells about the bewildering and painful episode.

”It was a difficult time. I remember that when they arrested Manolo Saiz, I couldn’t imagine the after-effects and consequences it would have. I didn’t think it was important because I never thought my name would be related with this doctor (Fuentes), a man I never even saw or spoke to in my whole life. I never thought it could have the least repercussions for me. The days prior to the departure of the Tour de France, a series of rumors and lists of riders started to appear, and on the eve of the prologue I was told that my name was on those lists.
“Although I denied it, I was told there was a possibility I could be prevented from taking part in the Tour de France. It seemed incredible. I had sacrificed a lot of things to arrive in the best condition, and I was told I was pushed aside because of something that was beyond my understanding. In the end I had no alternative but to return home.

“These were difficult moments, not only for me, but also for my family and the people who follow me. That weekend my parents had gone to Paris to see the prologue while, instead, I was returning home.

“I had some bad days, but it soon came out that my involvement with this doctor was nil. He admitted that he didn’t know me, and within ten days the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) stated that I could return to competition. But it was too late for the Tour, and the injustice had already been committed.

“This, like the accident, caused me to mature. All this is beyond one’s control, and the innocence of every rider is questionable. Nowadays it’s not necessary for a person’s anti-doping test results to be positive for him to be sent home. There are no fixed ethical criteria anymore. Everyone interprets them in his own way. Because of that I was forbidden to compete last year.

“Thank God the teams knew all about my situation. I got many offers, and could choose the one I thought was the most interesting.”

Tomorrow, Alberto relates some thoughts about the consequences of Operación Puerto.

Alberto Contador
Alberto Contador
2006 Tour de Suisse
Less than three weeks later, Contador would learn his
team would not be able to race in the Tour de France.
Copyright © Christine Grein

Race Report, Stage 13
Albi-Albi  TT

“It’s been a pretty good day, but the third week of the Tour remains”

At the end of the Albi time trial today, Alberto Contador found himself in third place in the GC, with only Rasmussen and Evans in front of him. “If you take a close look, it’s been a pretty good day in regards to the other important riders. Only Rasmussen surprised me with the great time trial he did.”

Contador had confidence in his chances before the start. “I knew that if I had a good day I could be in this situation, because my goal was to lose no more than 1:30 on the best of the GC, and I met that goal. On the other hand, there were others that lost a lot of time. I was surprised by Valverde, who was good in the Dauphiné TT, and also by Sastre.”

Contador didn’t feel handicapped by the rain, but still chose to play it safe. “I knew I couldn’t take risks, and I got through it. In spite of that, I had two scary moments. But I chose to lose a few seconds rather than risk falling down. I didn’t like the rain because of the risk, but physically it was almost good for me. Today I was concentrating really well, and the rain never worried me.”

Alberto’s forecast for the Pyrenees? “I want to continue just as I’ve done so far. Today I’ve gotten through an important and positive stage for me, but the third week remains, and the very difficult Pyrenees. I hope that tomorrow I don’t pay the bill for today’s efforts, and can be with the best in the last climb.”

As of now, he’ll gauge his efforts against the performances of Cadel Evans and Andreas Klöden. “They’re the most imposing of the favorites, although now others will attack from the far flanks, like Astana and others. But for me, those two are the wheels to monitor. Rasmussen is very strong, too, but I think if I gain a little on him, it’s possible to take him in the last time trial.”

Translations by Christine Kahane

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