Professor goes on hunger strike for Contador

The Spanish media and bike fans have been almost universal in their support for Alberto Contador in the wake of the announcement of his two-year ban earlier this week, but one Contador fan has been so incensed by the verdict that he has gone on hunger strike. Unay Talara Robles, who is 74 and a retired professor of ethology, is staging a sit-in at his local town hall in Ayamonte, near Huelva.

Describing the decision to ban Contador as “completely unjust”, Robles explained to EFE that he will continue with his hunger strike until the ban is overturned and Contador is allowed to compete normally once again.

Robles has taken such an extreme stance because, he says, watching Contador race helped him through a difficult stage in his life. “He brought me out of the depression I was suffering with, I could only get over it when I used to watch him racing in the afternoons on the TV. I was very ill, but in my house they knew that each afternoon they had to put me in front of the television and let me watch Contador, and that that helped me to move forwards,” he said.

Having read about the Contador verdict on the internet, Robles went to the town hall and took up residence in one of the offices within the building, insisting that he would not move and would not take in any food. However, when the town hall closed later that day the local police moved him out of the building into the square outside. Robles insists, though, that he will return to the town hall to continue his protest.

Meanwhile, Contador’s brother and personal manager, Fran Contador, has confirmed that the rider’s lawyers are studying the CAS ruling in order to assess the pros and cons of making an appeal in the civil courts. He also said that he is “convinced” that the rider will re-sign with Saxo Bank when his ban ends in early August.

“They have given us their complete support during every moment of this process and they have told us that everything is OK after hearing the verdict and that they want to be able to count on Alberto in the future,” he told Marca.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).