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There is no reason to doubt Froome's performances, says Contador

By:
Barry Ryan
Published:
July 15, 2013, 17:43,
Updated:
July 15, 2013, 18:43
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Race:
Tour de France
Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) struggles on the final kilometer

Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) struggles on the final kilometer

  • Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) struggles on the final kilometer
  • Alberto Contador leads Saxo Bank teammate Roman Kreuziger in the finale
  • Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) awaits the start of stage 13 in Tours

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Spaniard promises to attack in final week of Tour

On his last appearance at the Tour de France in 2011, Alberto Contador faced repeated doping questions as he rode under the shadow of an impending sanction for his positive test for clenbuterol at the previous year's race.

Two years on – and after belatedly serving his suspension last season – Contador has returned to France to find that while the questions still remain, they are now directed primarily at his rival, race leader Chris Froome (Sky).

Contador could scarcely hide his irritation when the first query at his rest day press conference in the Saxo-Tinkoff hotel in Avignon concerned Froome's credibility rather than his own chances of overhauling his considerable deficit of 4:25 in the overall standings, and he immediately looked to bat that line of questioning away.

"I will give you two questions about doping, no more. I'll just go to my room if you want to ask more than that," Contador said wearily, before continuing. "There is no reason to doubt Froome's performance. He is a great professional. He is at a very high level and has been all year. His performances are because he works hard. Sometimes you are stronger, other times you are less strong, but I believe in his performances. And in any case, there are the controls."

Contador has been emphatically defeated by Froome on both of the Tour's summit finishes to date, a sequence of events that would have been wholly unimaginable as recently as two years ago. He has acknowledged that Froome is simply on another plane this July, but with two Tour victories to his name (and a third expunged from his palmares), Contador seems unlikely to ride conservatively simply to defend a place on the podium in Paris.

"It's true that my aim was to win the race but it's also true that the leader is on a level above everyone else and in a face-to-face battle, it's impossible to beat him," Contador said. "But there's a hard and tactically complicated week of racing ahead of us. And yes, it is true that for me it's the same to finish second or 10th."

Repeating the past

Contador emerged victorious at last year's Vuelta a España even though for much of the three weeks he appeared to be the third strongest rider in the race behind Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde. The Spaniard's inventiveness and his seemingly inexhaustible supply of willing allies in the peloton combined to see him dramatically turn the overall standings around with a surprise attack on the road to Fuente De in the final week, however, and he hinted that he had a similar move ear-marked for the finale of the Tour.

"It's true that there is a stage where I want to see what happens, it could be a day to try and look for an opportunity," he said enigmatically. "There is a very important stage and in a week's time, you'll know which one it is."

Contador acknowledged that the majority of riders near the top of the general classification might be more inclined to defend their own positions rather than look to topple the seemingly unassailable Froome, but along with his teammate Roman Kreuziger (who lies three seconds behind him in third), he believes that he could find common cause with Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

"I don't know what each rider's ambition is during the race but I think Quintana is one guy who is interested in attacking and I could benefit from that," Contador said. "I don't know about the rest, they might be more interested in controlling the race."

As Contador faces into the Alps and the final week of racing, however, he is all too well aware that he is stepping into a very different arena to the one he faced at last year's Vuelta. "There are two big differences: the gap wasn't as big at the Vuelta and in the head-to-heads here, the leader has always shown himself to be stronger than me," he said. "At the Vuelta, we were all more or less at the same level."

wrinklyvet More than 1 year ago
Very gracious.
WestinCarpaccio More than 1 year ago
Agreed. He always is spot on with his comments. Of course he really has nothing else to say unless he wants to cause a major storm. He may very well believe something else, but there is no way he can say it to a press conference.
go crazy More than 1 year ago
Contador will always say these things. He still defends Lance Armstrong to whatever extent he can. Lance Armstrong...the guy who cheated in 7 tour victories, and tried to sabotage AC whenever he could. This is as much a non story as anything.
Lord.Bachus More than 1 year ago
Well, withouth proof there is allways doubt, and you can never proof your innocense. Its smart to only allow 2 questions about dope, because there is so much to enjoy about cycling these days and not worry about the dope.
durgadas More than 1 year ago
I'm actually a little sad to see Contador not going mano e mano with Froome in some Lemond\Hinault fireworks.
5891jonathan More than 1 year ago
Pro cycling has nearly destroyed itself with doping and lies about doping and willful ignorance about doping. The cuplability runs from the athletes themselves to the teams and the sponsors and the anti-doping agencies. Why should I believe anything Contador says? He's the last guy I would trust to be impartial and forthright.
5891jonathan More than 1 year ago
"culpability"
Montoya4Ever More than 1 year ago
Who cares what you thing and believe anyway ??
Dan Vella More than 1 year ago
Contador to SKY? :)
Andrea Cerri More than 1 year ago
Interesting Theory...
Chris Todgers More than 1 year ago
LOL - I would bet my house on that not happening!!
Rob Alan More than 1 year ago
Never happens. Sky DO NOT employ ex-dopers as riders. Its the reason David Millar doesn't ride for them.
blemcooper More than 1 year ago
That, and because Millar is a part-owner of Garmin-Sharp. Maybe he likes being a team principal rather than an employee as he would be at Sky.
Mckenzie1Mark More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge contador fan, but each year his time trialing has declined, he's not as explosive in the climbs as he once was, and with dopers being caught out in athletics now I can't help but think that all those who participate in individual sports are doping, individual sportsmen are selfish by nature, they will do anything and everything to win. I hope I'm wrong but I wouldn't be surprised if froome was found out to be doping, but he'll never test positive that's for sure, like in athletics all the testers are paid off handsomely.
loge1884 More than 1 year ago
"like in athletics, testers are paid off handsomely" ... have you ever heard of something like libel and slander?
egtalbot More than 1 year ago
Doping in individual sports is likely superseded only by doping in football (soccer) and the American major sports. The testing regimens in those sports, particular the American ones, are jokes. For better or for worse, cycling and athletics actually catch big names on a regular basis, while the others ports have no interest in doing so.
kdogg64 More than 1 year ago
Particularly American ones??? Not that your wrong, but I believe Dr. Fuentes was treating some big time European soccer and tennis players last time I checked. I believe this is the real reason the Spanish courts don't want the remaining blood bags examined.
blemcooper More than 1 year ago
While I agree that major sports in the U.S. have lagged behind cycling and athletics in the anti-doping, have you ever heard of Alex Rodriguez? He's reportedly facing the equivalent of a one year doping suspension. As big names go in baseball, he's as big as it gets--his annual salary could fund a few World Tour cycling teams.
Chris Todgers More than 1 year ago
you clearly havent read the sports news in the past 24 hours, and in particular the athletics news.
Montoya4Ever More than 1 year ago
Mckenzie1Mark, what Contador still has and can not be drawn to any drug use is his will and determination ... that's why any race and Grand Tour with Contador is far better than one without him (and that's why they let him run the Giro while in investigation .. just to take his win back .. but not all the money the organizers won). This Tour hasn't finish ... and I'm sure he'll try something. So .. I still enjoy watching Contador because he's always trying to find a way to win ... even when his body can't ... as in last year Vuelta when he won against more superiors Valverde and Purito !
ailsab More than 1 year ago
When you talk about individuals and doping and athletics. What about tennis. Have you seen the stumps that Andy Murray has put on over the last 12 - 18 months. This cant be just from training.
GuyIncognito More than 1 year ago
Contador has 3 options: - Answer this and get criticized only by attentive fans - Say 'I think he's suspicious' and be criticized by the majority of casual fans - Decline to comment and be criticized by everyone In short, this is the only thing he could've possibly said
5891jonathan More than 1 year ago
You have an excellent point. What did the journalists expect him to say?
Chris Todgers More than 1 year ago
possibly, but he didnt have to say anywhere near as much as he did, if he had any doubts e.g. he could have just said "no, i dont think so", but he went much further than this to confirm that he doesnt have any suspicions..
go crazy More than 1 year ago
Um, Contador is still defending Lance Armstrong, the guy who cheated for 7 tours, and tried to sabotage AC every chance he had. AC is not going to say anything.
snoopies78 More than 1 year ago
Generally if a rider thinks another is cheating they actually say nothing, or "I have no idea thats what the tests are for." They would never defend them with as much conviction as Contador defended Froome.
Chris Todgers More than 1 year ago
indeed!
kdogg64 More than 1 year ago
He's just covering his tracks should Froome get busted later down the road.
kdogg64 More than 1 year ago
Especially if he comes in second place.
WestinCarpaccio More than 1 year ago
Exactly. He can't say anything else. "Yeah, I think he is doped to the eyeballs. He is really suspicious." He has no other answer. What I don't get are the same, incessant, daily questions. Same question, different day. No wonder some riders just get irritated and say no more questions on doping.
RogerP More than 1 year ago
" like in athletics all the testers are paid off handsomely. " If you are going accuse people please give us proof of your statements. Thank you
pleyser More than 1 year ago
I think what the commenter is going for is the general pattern of sports federations/agencies catching the "small fish" with testing while letting the "big fish" (ie. lucrative stars) of sport get away with a similar offence. We've seen it with the UCI, North American sports like football and hockey. Personally, I don't trust the IOC or track and field federations to kill their "golden goose" and damage their sport. Self interest is a powerful motivator.
wrinklyvet More than 1 year ago
So the latest problem with the sprinters is a big surprise to you!
DerekandMartha Larson More than 1 year ago
Yes, and there are the "controls." Blood levels low = Bilharzia. Blood levels high = an anonymous donation to Patty. Blood levels at maximum legal limit = normal reading.
Mike Zobel More than 1 year ago
Being given the nod of approval by Contador makes the whole thing appear even more fishy.