Alberto Contador will return to Europe on Tuesday with a second place overall, two mountain-top stage wins and the King of the Mountains title in the recently completed Tour of San Luis stage race in Argentina in his suitcase.
However, all that success palls into insignificance compared with the fast-looming verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over his clenbuterol case that could see him face up to a two-year ban from the sport.
A verdict from CAS was expected during the week commencing January 30, but CAS issued a statement on Monday saying that the verdict will be delivered on February 6.
The final stage of San Luis was won by Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in a sprint. It was the Belgian’s first victory since Ghent-Wevelgem last spring. The overall victory went to Boonen’s team-mate Levi Leipheimer.
Contador, meanwhile, is due to return to Madrid very early on Tuesday morning after travelling for almost two days on the trot, for a verdict for his positive test for clenbuterol that could see him stripped of his most recent Tour de France title, in 2010.
Whatever the verdict it will have major consequences for sport’s fight against doping, as well as deciding the future of cycling’s top stage racer of the last few years.
The Spaniard – who claims that the minute traces of clenbuterol found in his body in July 2010 were due to a contaminated beef steak – has continued to assert his innocence throughout a legal process that has dragged on for over 18 months.
He has taken extra precautions during his race in Argentina: according to website www.biciciclismo.es, the Spaniard did not eat any beef during the time he spent there.
Should Contador be declared innocent, then he will continue to race. His next event is the Tour of Mallorca, starting early next week.