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Saturday, July 7, 2007

by Rebecca Bell

No cycling fan needs a special reason to admire Alberto Contador. Just seeing him race is enough. Since 2005, his exploits on the bike have drawn the eyes and dropped the jaws of fans everywhere. His spectacular win at Paris-Nice last March branded him as a new hero in the sport, a phenom, a rising sun.

What more could you ask for?

When I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in November, 2006, Contador’s story took on new meaning. I’ve felt a special kinship with this young athlete who experienced a cerebral hemorrhage and brain surgery in 2004. In terms of inspiration, he’s my own personal Lance Armstrong.

During recovery, I was advised to keep a notebook nearby, and to write things down. It was cognitive therapy, at first. But as the stack of steno pads has grown, my pen has traced the name Alberto Contador many times. It has been therapy for the heart and soul, not simply lubrication for the mental machinery.

Many eyes will be on this hot young star each day in the Tour de France. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know him a little better from the perspective of a singularly-motivated fan.

Alberto Contador in action
2005 Paris-Nice
photo: Pete Geyer
Race Report, Prologue

Looking fit and supple, Alberto Contador bounded to a 15th place finish today, 35” behind winner Fabian Cancellara. He finished ahead of most of the climbers and many of the overall favorites in today’s inaugural stage of the 2007 Tour de France.

He said after the race, “It was a time trial for power riders, not a rider with my qualities, and because of that I’m satisfied after a first look at the results.”

“I’m a bit surprised at the differences among some of the favorites, which were bigger than expected,” added Contador, “although the Tour has just started and it’s unwise to give too much significance to these times. My goal now is to spend the next few days riding calmly, in advance of the mountain stages. There we’ll take a close look at the placing of each one.”

Phil Liggett’s comments about Contador today:
“Wherever he goes, he gives his best. We had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of weeks ago, and having a long chat with him, and he struck me as being a very personable character.”

“We know this boy is nursing terrific form, and his manager, Johan Bruyneel, really believes in this man and sees him as the big man of the future.”

About Contador’s prologue performance, Liggett added, “This is a warning to the rest of the world of cycling, that this year or next year this man could be the man we’re all going to talk about as a Tour de France winner.”
Translations by Christine Kahane

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Alberto Contador banner design: Nicky Orr   Banner photo: Christine Kahane

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