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Sunday, July 22, 2007
14. Tour 2006: Cycling, the Black Sheep
by Rebecca Bell

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 Astana
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 together.”

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.

Alberto's results:

Stage 14    1st    5.25.48
Young rider    1st    5.25.48

Points        20    Plateau de Beille
Mountains    40    Plateau de Beille

GC        2nd      2.23
Young rider    1st    64.14.38 (Closest rival is Soler at 9.08)

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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