Spaniard speaks on possible Leopard-RadioShack merger
Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) has said that the Tour de France will be the centrepiece of his 2012 season, and also hinted at a return to the Vuelta a España for the first time since 2008.
The Spaniard, who returned an adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour, is still awaiting a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing into the case, but he is already looking ahead to next year and he plans to tailor his early-season programme to aid his Tour preparation.
“For 2012, the Tour will be my number one objective,” Contador told Teledeporte. “First I will pick interesting races and take them on to prepare myself to the best. And then I might also ride the Vuelta."
In a related web chat on the rtve.es, Contador was more emphatic. "Next year my goal is the Tour but it is very likely that I will take part in the 2012 Vuelta a España. I feel like it again."
After winning the Giro d’Italia in May, Contador could only manage 5th in this year’s Tour, a result which marked his first defeat in a three-week stage race since his debut in La Grande Boucle in 2005. He is set to cut the Giro from his 2012 programme, but he was adamant that he did not regret attempting the Giro-Tour double this year.
“My account is very positive. First at the Giro and fifth at the Tour, I wouldn’t change that,” Contador said. “I retain an extraordinary memory of the Giro, it’s the most beautiful race there is.”
Following rumours of a possible merger between Andy Schleck’s Leopard Trek squad and RadioShack in 2012, Contador admitted that his great rival’s chances of Tour victory would be increased, but he was confident that Bjarne Riis would also be active in the transfer market to strengthen the Saxo Bank line-up.
At the Giro, Contador appeared to form alliances of circumstance with Spanish squads Movistar and Euskaltel-Euskadi, while he often appeared isolated in the finale of the big mountain stages at the Tour de France.
“If the merger between RadioShack and Leopard is confirmed it would be hard for me,” Contador acknowledged. “They would have a really strong team for the big tours. But I know that Riis is also working to reinforce our team. I think we’ll have a strong team and remember that this year a lot of the Tour team raced the Giro beforehand, so it was difficult to recover.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sport will hear the UCI and WADA’s appeals relating to Contador's Clenbuterol case from November 21-24. Contador was cleared of wrongdoing by the Spanish Cycling Federation in February, but if CAS finds against him, he would face suspension and the loss of his 2010 Tour title.
“I am confident that everything will end up well and I hope that the matter can be resolved before the end of the year.”
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