With a week still to ride, Alberto Contador has all but won the Giro. In fact the Spaniard had things pretty well sewn up as soon as the race hit the mountains, such is his superiority. He romped away on the slopes of Mount Etna on the ninth stage and his rivals have been left in his wake, scrapping for second.
Without doubt this is the most dominant performance since Ivan Basso’s near 10-minute advantage five years ago. Within a year the Italian had been banned for two seasons for his involvement in the Operacion Puerto drugs scandal.
Now history could be repeated as we count down the days until the Court of Arbitration for Sport publishes its ruling on Contador which could also see him banned for up to two years after his positive for clenbuterol at last year’s Tour de France.
It’s been a ridiculous start to the season, months of farce since the Spanish Cycling Federation cleared their man of all charges. Rightly the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency both appealed but that leaves Contador free to ride and race fans in limbo.
Before Contador’s positive test, best price for a fourth Tour win had been 10/11 but now with just over five weeks to go until the big race the bookies simply won’t take a bet on the man.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly
Giro d’Italia 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index