|15. Tour 2006: Open Letter
Alberto wrote this letter, dated July 1, 2006, to his fans to tell them
how he felt after being excluded from the Tour:
“Dear fans and cycling lovers,
“Two years ago you supported me through a difficult experience, when
I endangered my personal and professional life during the Vuelta a Asturias.
More recently, during the past year, I shared with you the reality of my
recovery and my successes during 2005. For all this, and because
you supported me with your cheers or wrote my name on the road, and gave
me the necessary strength to endure this latest terrible obstacle, I feel
I have to share with all of you what has happened to me, and let you know
the way I feel about it.
“It’s only by chance that I came to love cycling, chose a life of sacrifice,
effort, suffering, and decided to forego a normal youth in order to become
someone I would be proud of, someone who would make me feel privileged:
A PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST.
“And because I know that there is nothing more satisfying than to reap
the fruit of one’s efforts and work, I need to let you know that I now
feel sad, disenchanted, powerless, and much more, to such an extent that
no words can express my current state of mind.
“I am a person who believes - and life has shown me - that experiences
that appear damaging and unpleasant at first sight can have positive outcomes.
I know that my future professional and personal life will be marked by
the scar of these days, but I’ll try to remember only the good things,
and carry on working and making efforts, with even more enthusiasm, if
possible, to make you enjoy this beautiful sport, which I beg you
to believe in, and to believe in me.
“To you, youngsters who start in this sport, I ask you to share something
with me: MAKE CYCLING A SPORT THAT EVERYBODY ADMIRES. And, because I believe
in a clean sport, that is how I always PRACTICED IT, I know that
in a few years we will get a worthwhile reward.
With kind regards,
|Race Report, Stage 15
Foix - Loudenvielle - Le Louron, 196km
“I only want one thing”
Alberto Contador lit up the final climb of the Peyresourde Monday, attacking
Michael Rasmussen’s yellow jersey again and again. With the very first
attack, Rasmussen alone was able to regain his wheel, as all of the other
contenders slid backward. Contador was far from finished, however. The
“Chicken” might have wondered if the sky was falling as Alberto’s attacks
rained down on him, once, twice, five times in all. "I attacked Rasmussen
to try to challenge him," said Contador. "I saw that he was a little worse
than yesterday, but he was able to follow me.” Each time, Rasmussen clawed
himself back to Alberto’s wheel, but clearly with ever-increasing difficulty.
The final attack before the summit might well have gained a lasting gap,
if Alberto hadn’t been forced to slow by a traffic jam of support cars.
At the top, he was joined by teammate George Hincapie, part of the day’s
original breakaway. With Hincapie’s well-timed help, Contador and Rasmussen
raced down the final descent. They gained nearly a minute on all other contenders,
including third place Cadel Evans, one of the day’s goals. “Today I’ve gained
more time on Evans, which is very good for consolidating second place overall,
looking toward the last time trial,” Contador said.
On the small climb just before the finish line, he attacked for the sixth
time. Again, Rasmussen pulled himself slowly back. The Dane then sat on
Contador’s wheel in the final stretch, but Alberto had the finishing strength
to stay in front crossing the line.
Alberto was quite satisfied with how he felt during the stage. “The legs
have been very good. It’s a pity I couldn’t leave Rasmussen, but we’ve
put on a nice spectacle, and there have been some moments when I’ve had
him on the ropes. This gives me a lot of confidence for the last mountain
And Contador’s plan for that stage? “On Wednesday, I’m going to
play for it all. Second place doesn't matter. I’m going to risk all to win.
If I end up in sixth, it doesn't matter. I only want one thing: when I finish
this Tour, I want to go home knowing that I’ve done everything possible
Stage 15 10th 5.31
Young rider 2nd 1.06
Young rider 1st 69.54.37 (Closest
rival is Soler at 12.37 )