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Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank)
Spaniard's doping ban ends just in time
Spanish rider Alberto Contador (Team Saxo Bank) could make his return to cycling in the 2012 Eneco Tour according to sources at his Saxo Bank team. In February, the 29-year-old received a backdated two-year ban for a positive Clenbuterol test at the 2010 Tour de France. The ban ends on August 5.
The Eneco Tour gets underway the next day in Holland and runs for seven stages, culminating in a finale on August 12 that takes in the Muur van Geraardsbergen, the iconic and historic climb that was controversially left out of the revamped Tour of Flanders course earlier this month. Contador and his management team clearly see the race as ideal preparation for his big late summer targets - the Clásica de San Sebastián (August 14) and the Vuelta a España (August 18 to September 9).
"I think the team is interested in the fact that he [Contador] can compete immediately in a stage race and use it as a springboard to San Sebastian and the Vuelta," said Saxo Bank sporting director Tristan Hoffman. "With a team time trial and the individual stages the organization of this year's Eneco Tour will suit his plans well."
Contador will miss this year's Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and London Olympics as a result of the sanction and he was also stripped of his 2010 Tour de France victory. The Spaniard's comeback to racing will be one of the most eagerly-awaited of recent times and is bound to be one of the most fascinating sub-plots of the latter part of the season.