French newspaper L’Equipe claims Alberto Contador plans to ride all three grand Tours in 2011 if he is cleared of doping.
The Spaniard is still awaiting a decision from the Spanish Cycling Federation but last week spent time with his new Saxo Bank-SunGard team in Fuerteventura. L'Equipe suggests Contador is already thinking about next season and if he is cleared he may may target the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and the Vuelta Espana.
Team manager Bjarne Riis reiterated his total support for Contador and remains optimistic that he will be the team leader at Saxo Bank SunGard in 2011.
“His presence here is important. In my mind, he’s definitely part of the team,” Riis told L’Equipe.
“I have good reason to believe in him. He inspires respect. Everyone knows his situation and the whole team is supportive. The season is about to start and we have to be ready and believe that Alberto will be our captain in 2011. I hope the decision will be fair. But if he happened to be punished, it wouldn’t mean that he’s guilty.”
Contador spoke briefly to L’Equipe, confirming that all his defence documents have been submitted.
“I’m hopeful. The documents have been filed and presented to the commission. Nothing has been left to chance and it’s all based on scientific data. For a little while, I’ve decided to limit my contact with the media because I prefer to wait for a verdict. It’s difficult and a quick decision would be ideal but it’s a complex situation. I just hope it will turn out in my favour.”
Under UCI rules the Spanish Cycling Federation has a month to reach a verdict and L’Equipe points out that this deadline falls today. However the Spanish Cycling Federation claims it has different rules but Contador’s lawyer has said a verdict is expected soon.
According to L’Equipe, Contador’s legal team has made the case a question of public health with a complaint lodged against the Spanish producers of bovine meat.
They countered, saying: “Contador’s arguments could jeopardize the livelihood of 150,000 families.”“In South America, the fattening of the bovines is authorised and two million tonnes of meat are imported yearly in Spain”, confirmed the biggest association of Spanish farmers, ASAJA. But the association of Spanish meat producers ASOPROVAC hasn’t been impressed by
“The Contador affair has become a national affair”, wrote L’Equipe. The complaint led to the opening of a governmental inquiry with one more battle of experts coming up.”