The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to suspend Alberto Contador for two years means that his 2011 Giro d’Italia title passes to Michele Scarponi, who stood on the second step of the podium in Milan last May.
Scarponi raced with Contador at Liberty Seguros prior to his own suspension for his implication in Operacion Puerto, and was muted in his response to being retroactively awarded the maglia rosa at Contador’s expense.
“Together with my team, Lampre-ISD, I acknowledge the decision taken by CAS on the Contador case,” Scarponi said in a statement released by his team on Monday. “From a human point of view, I’m very sorry for Alberto. From a professional aspect, this decision doesn’t change the value of the results I have obtained up to now or my future objectives.”
Scarponi finished the Giro 6:10 behind Contador, but enjoyed a tight battle with Vincenzo Nibali for the second spot on the podium. He succeeded in holding off the challenge of Vincenzo Nibali by 46 seconds in the final time trial, a performance which will ultimately see him inscribed in the record books as the winner of the 2011 Giro.
Another beneficiary of Contador’s suspension is John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who moves up from fourth to third place overall. Like Scarponi, the Frenchman’s reaction to the news was low-key.
“I don’t even know if it will appear on my palmares,” Gadret told L’Équipe. “I’ll say that I finished fourth on the road, and third with a rider disqualified. It doesn’t have the same taste as a real podium.
“For me, this podium finish, coming almost a year later, isn’t a podium finish. It’s maybe more disappointing for Scarponi and Nibali, the Italian who were fighting at home for the pink jersey.”
While Gadret insisted that he had no problem with Contador’s participation in the Giro at the time, he conceded that in hindsight, the Spaniard’s presence in Italy had completely altered the way in which the other overall contenders approached the race.
“The important point is that without Contador, it wouldn’t have been the same race. He was so far ahead of everyone else,” Gadret said. “Behind, there was a small nucleus of riders who were very close to each other. The Giro wouldn’t have been skewed and it would have been very interesting."
Gadret also pointed out that while Contador’s ban is officially two years, in practice, he will only be out of action for a shade over six months. “If I’m calculating right, it’s finished in the month of August,” he said. “He’ll come back and win the Vuelta. That’s going to pass very quickly, It’s only six months off the bike for him.”