Alberto Contador has stated that he considers the 2011 Giro d'Italia victory as still belonging to him, although he was officially stripped of the title by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) following a doping suspension related to the 2010 Tour de France. Moreover, the Spaniard was asked by Eurosport to rate this year's Giro d'Italia contenders, and the former Saxo Bank rider placed Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) - the official 2011 winner - as his favourite for the overall victory.
On losing his 2011 Giro win, Contador said: "There are two things. There's what is written on a piece of paper and there is what you feel. I know that the 2011 Giro belongs to me, it's mine, I won it by making great efforts. What counts is that I achieved the planned objective, it's a personal satisfaction. Now, if they write in the books that I won the Giro once (2008) or twice, it's the same to me."
Scarponi, who has since been awarded the 2011 trophy, was rated by Contador as this year's biggest favourite. "I think that Scarponi has a great opportunity this year. Nibali is not there, and I think that it would have been a Giro well-adapted to his capacities. But because I think that he can win, and because I am his friend, I put Scarponi in first position.
"After that, it's hard to put an order for the podium. For second place, there are a series of riders like Kreuziger, Cunego, Basso, but also guys like Pozzovivo or Rujano could very well end up on the podium, too."
Contador cited Scarponi's teammate Damiano Cunego, who was officially named into the Lampre-ISD selection only at a late stage, but did not believe that the 2004 Giro winner would threaten Scarponi's leadership. "He's been at a very high level for several seasons. I'm confident for him. Even if Cunego's form at the moment may be better than Scarponi's, Scarponi will be fresher. The Giro has several phases. You have to be strong especially at the end. Plus, the Giro is so hard that having two leaders is not a problem," he said.
The four-time Grand Tour winner will be watching the Giro on television, admittedly regretting not to be able to race. "I think that this Giro would have been well-suited to me, with its very demanding final week," he said. "I also think that this Giro could have been combined with the Tour de France, whereas the one last year was too hard to do the double."
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