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Thursday, July 26, 2007
17. It’s the Tour that needs brain surgery!
by Rebecca Bell

(Transcription of Stage 17 press conference below)
I intended to include something creative in the Notebook for today about how inspiring Alberto can be for a musician. The way he can nip and tuck, attack, explode, and scream to the finish in a white-hot line are great images for kick-arse harpsichord playing.

But the events of the past few days cannot be ignored. To a cycling lover recovering from brain surgery, the Tour at present seems to be trying to cram the brain tumor right back in my head!

To keep track of the situations, it’s necessary to jot unpleasant items into the current steno pad.

I believe in Alberto 100%. I feel that fans should have faith in him as a person, and that they’ll be rewarded in the end.

Here’s an extension of the Race Report for Stage 17:

Contador donned the maillot jaune at the end of Stage 17, after the Rabobank team sacked Michael Rasmussen for lying to them about his whereabouts before the Tour.

Contador rode the stage in the white Best Young Rider jersey, kept safe in the pack by his teammates. He was awarded the maillot jaune in the podium ceremony after the finish.

Capping off another disastrous day for the Tour de France, he sat down to a press conference after the podium ceremony.
He spoke directly, a mature and articulate young man, but without the ebullient joy one would hope for a cyclist in his first moments of wearing the yellow jersey.

Visibly mustering patience and self-control, he answers a number of other queries. Only when asked about Saturday’s final time trial does he become animated, smile openly, and relax.

The following is a transcription in English of the press conference.

Alberto, given everything that has happened, can you tell us, are you clean? Can you tell us if you have missed any doping tests? And could you explain any role or any connection with the Operación Puerto or the affair Puerto that you may have had?

“Yes, okay. To the first question, I’m clean or I wouldn’t be here. To the second question, yes, I’ve done all the doping tests, during the race but also outside the race.  And third, there is no connection with Operación Puerto. I was only in the wrong team at the wrong time.”

Do you think it’s fair that Rasmussen is now out of the race?

“I can’t judge, because I don’t know enough about it. It’s a decision that the team took, and I can’t say anything about it.”

What do you think when the journalists ask you some questions, like before, if you’re clean or not?

“It’s very sad, because I like the sport, and there are many lovers of the sport, there are thousands of people on the road on these days, and it’s difficult to have, all the time, this problem and these questions.”

Yes, Alberto, 1’53”, A lot of time, or a little? (his margin going into Saturday’s decisive time trial)

“It depends on the day. Fifty-five kilometers, it’s a lot and it will be difficult to keep the yellow jersey. But I saw in the last time trial that I have a chance, and I will give everything to keep it.”

Watch a video of the press conference here.

Race Report, Stage 17
Pau – Castelsarrasin, 188.5 km

Maillot Jaune!!

A serious-looking Contador put on the yellow jersey after Stage 17, and was awarded another Crédit Lyonnais lion, a companion for the one he won in Paris-Nice.

Why Alberto’s face showed mixed emotions at this great moment is a long and complicated story.

See main Notebook entry for more information.

A longwinded escape succeeded on Stage 17, putting Lampre’s Daniele Bennati on the stage winner’s podium with a margin of 9.39.

Alberto’s results

Stage 17    20th    9.39
Young rider    2    s.t. Sven Krauss, Gerolsteiner

GC        1st    80.42.08   
Young rider    1st    80.42.08               

Translations by Christine Kahane

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