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Alberto Contador made an emotional plea of innocence during his press conference
Riis says team will be strong with or without Spaniard
Alberto Contador is currently suspended while his doping case is pending before the Spanish cycling federation, but Team Saxo Bank-SunGard seems to believe he will be eligible to ride in the Spring. He has been listed to ride the Tour of Murcia in March.
Meanwhile, team manager Bjarne Riis says that the team will be as strong as ever, even if Contador is unable to ride in the coming season.
The race organizer, Club Murciano Organizador de Carreras Ciclistas, received the team registration from the Danish team, including Contador, Lucas Sebastian Haedo and Jesus Hernandez.
Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol during the Tour de France. A decision on his suspension is expected sometime next month, with the ruling also expected to be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Contador has denied doping and lays the blame on contaminated meat.
The Tour of Murcia is scheduled for March 2-6 and will feature 12 or 13 teams. Movistar, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Rabobank, Saxo Bank-SunGard Vacansoleil, Geox-TMC, Caja Rural, Andalucia-Caja Granada, Skil-Shimano, UnitedHealthcare and a Russian national team are already confirmed to ride.
Riis seemingly unconcerned
Riis has lost his big stars of the past few years, with the Schleck brothers and Fabian Cancellara going to the new Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, a gap he had hoped to fill with Contador. But now he faces a year with the possibility that Contador will not be eligible to ride.
“Whether he is or not does not change how the team is structured. The principles are the same,” Riis told sporten.dk.
“It may well be that on paper we will not have strong names as before but we have a stronger crew than ever. And we'll provide results independent of Contador. I expect that some of those who get the opportunity now will step up to take advantage of that chance.