Contador hit by flu in Tour lead-up

Spaniard won’t defend time trial title

The Spanish time trial championship is assured of changing hands this week, with current champion Alberto Contador announcing he won’t defend the title. Contador has hoped to defend the title and wear his national colours at next month’s Tour de France, but he’s been suffering from flu symptoms since Saturday.

"It's a pity, but I'm not able to attend the Spanish Championship because I'm having a little flu,” said Contador. “I had wanted to defend the jersey, but unfortunately I am not in good condition and against this I can not do anything.”

Contador is training with Astana team-mates Paolo Tiralongo, Dani Navarro, David de la Fuente, Jesús Hernández, Benjamin Noval and Oscar Pereiro in Sierra de Madrid this week. The week-long camp will help the Kazakh-backed squad decide its final roster for the Tour de France, which commences at the end of next week.

Had Contador successfully defended his national title he would have started this year’s Tour in the Spanish colours, with the race opening with a flat 8.9 kilometre prologue in Rotterdam. The jersey would have been displayed again on Stage 19, when the Tour will tackle a 52 kilometre time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac.

Contador’s absence from this Thursday’s event in Albacete will be welcomed by Caisse d’Epargne’s Luis León Sánchez. Sánchez held the title in 2008 but finished second to the Tour champion at last year’s race.

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