|14. Tour 2006: Cycling, the
Alberto evaluates the impact Operación Puerto has had on cycling.
“It has been doubtless very negative. Cycling has been ruined because
of Operación Puerto. Four out of five cycling articles are about
doping and Operación Puerto. It’s sad, but that’s the kind of stuff
that sells papers. As a consequence, every newspaper that can get some news
on that subject, does it. It’s terrible.
“In my opinion, cycling is a nice sport, a beautiful sport that motivates
fervor. But it seems to be a black sheep, while other sports are untouchable.
“I totally agree to anti-doping controls, and to being controlled myself,
although I would like all sports to be considered on the same level. It’s
unbelievable that a rider’s whereabouts have to be known 24 hours a day
and 365 days a year. We are treated like delinquents. It’s unthinkable.
“But after all, cycling is what I like to do. It’s my way of life. It’s
my work, although there are still things I don’t understand.”
About Manolo Saiz, he relates “Independently of what happened, I can’t
say anything bad about him. He always took care of me and the other young
riders in an exemplary way. When I had surgery and when I had a difficult
time, he was always at my side. He gave me a lot of confidence in myself
and never doubted that I would get back on a bike. Real friends are the ones
who remain close to you in difficult times. I will always be grateful to
him for that. I had a wonderful cycling apprenticeship thanks to him.”
Tomorrow, read a letter Alberto wrote to his fans concerning his feelings
about being excluded from the Tour 2006.
Alberto Contador and the Astana-Wurth team
2006 Tour de France
It seemed like a cruel joke. The team got as far as
Strasbourg for the 2006 Tour de France teams
presentation before being told to go home.
Copyright © Christine Grein
|Race Report, Stage 14
Mazamet - Plateau-de-Beille, 197km
Alberto takes Plateau de Beille!
A first Tour de France victory for Contador
Alberto Contador snatched the stage win today, in a magnificent ride
on the first day of high drama in the Pyrenees. In a thrilling sprint, he
bested race leader Michael Rasmussen in Stage 14 of the Tour de France.
Now seated 2nd in the GC, Contador gained time on all his rivals today.
He’s perched just 2.23 behind the Dane.
“Winning a stage of the Tour before the eyes of the whole world, on
a weekend, in front of my fans and my family, who’ve supported me, it’s
everything to me. For me, it’s as if the Tour was over, regardless of what
the end result turns out to be. I would feel the same even if tomorrow I
had a bad day.”
A long journey of labor and suffering has brought Alberto to this victory.
“When I had brain surgery, they advised me to consider forgetting about
the bicycle. But thanks to God, everything turned out well, and I could return
to the highest level.”
“Today the team worked perfectly. It’s been a pleasure to work with
them, and I only hope we find a new sponsor so that we can keep working
Alberto was unhappy with Rasmussen’s attitude. “I was disappointed.
He attacked me in the last two kilometers and showed that he doesn’t keep
his word,” he said about the current maillot jaune.
Contador admitted that he wouldn’t object to finishing on the final
podium in Paris, but added, “Now I’m just thinking about going back to
the hotel, falling into bed, and thinking about the race tomorrow. For
me, this result is good enough.”
Today, Contador revealed his unique qualities once again: strength made
of a blend of steel and elastic, exceptional courage, focus, and intelligence.
In conquering the summit of Plateau de Beille, he joins company with only
two other Tour de France competitors: Marco Pantani and Lance Armstrong.
Stage 14 1st 5.25.48
Young rider 1st 5.25.48
Points 20 Plateau
Mountains 40 Plateau de Beille
Young rider 1st 64.14.38 (Closest
rival is Soler at 9.08)