As he serves out the remainder of his suspension for clenbuterol use, Spanish rider Alberto Contador has revealed that he is desperately missing the thrill of competition and the edge that it provides, but is training harder than ever and has been keeping a close eye on the 2012 season from the comfort of his living room.
Contador was sanctioned by CAS in February after one of cycling's most high profile and protracted doping investigations, and he is banned from competing until August. He will miss the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the London 2012 Olympics but is scheduled to return at the Eneco Tour ahead of a tilt at the Vuelta a Espana. He is reportedly closing in on a new deal to ride for Saxo Bank, who have struggled without him, when he returns to racing - something that he admits can't some soon enough.
"My days are full," the 29 year-old told Eurosport. "I train maybe even more than usual as I have to compensate for the lack of races. In a squad you can sometimes relax, but when you train on your own you must always work hard. I miss the competition enormously. Of course I like bikes anyway, but it is the competition that drives me. I need it."
In between training sessions, Contador revealed that he has been obsessively following the 2012 season unfold on television, which has given him extra motivation and has been useful in terms of gathering tactical information on his rivals. He also singled out some riders for special praise in light of their performances so far this year.
"Training of course has priority, but if I can, I follow the races on television," he said.
"It is very instructive to study the competition. Two riders are having excellent seasons: Tom Boonen and Simon Gerrans. I enjoyed Boonen, he was again at his best level. Gerrans has also been impressive. Furthermore, Leipheimer took a very high level. It was too bad he broke his fibula in the Basque Country. "