By Shane Stokes in Bern
Tour de Suisse stage 8 winner Alberto Contador has spoken of the uncertainty over the Würth team’s participation in the Tour de France, saying that he has chosen to focus entirely on reaching the start in the best possible shape rather than mulling over the possibility that the team could be excluded.
"For sure I think about it," he said, when asked about the subject at Saturday’s press conference. "But it doesn’t help if I think about it or not, I can’t change anything anyway. My responsibility is to be in the best shape possible on the first of July, that is all I can do. The decision is nothing to do with me, I can’t control it."
Contador said that he and the rest of the team are focused 100 percent on helping leader Alexandre Vinokourov, rather than chasing any additional goals such as the white jersey for best young rider. "Everything is for Vinokourov," he continued. "My job and my objective is going to be to help Vinokourov to get the best possible position in the ranking. I am only 23, I have a lot to learn and I still have plenty of time in the future to show myself. For now everything is for Vinokourov."
"As regards the white jersey, I think it is a consequence of riding well. If you go well then you are in the running for that. But that is not an objective which is laid out for me. My only objective is to help Vinokourov. If I am in very good shape and the white jersey comes along, that is fine, but it is not my goal," Contador added.
The team was thrown into turmoil when on May 23rd directeur sportif Manolo Saiz was arrested by police in Madrid on suspicion of purchasing doping products from controversial doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. Their chief sponsor Liberty Seguros promptly withdrew, but more recently Astana - a conglomeration of sponsors from Vinokourov’s Kazakhstan - has said it will take over. The UCI are yet to rule on this change and also to decide it the team’s ProTour licence should be suspended, this preventing the riders from competing in this year’s Tour.
The team has won two stages in the Tour de Suisse and the first of these victors, Angel Vicioso, also led the race for two days. In addition, Jörg Jaksche finished third overall.
Contador was asked how he was able to keep performing well despite the pressure. "Well, as I said before, I am a professional cyclist," he stated. "My objective is to keep concentrated on that, to train and race as best as I can. I have found that when everything goes well, everybody is happy with you. When things go bad, nobody likes you any more. I have learned that I have to listen to my friends and not rely on what is happening around me, just to focus on my job."