Less than a week after his four-day hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport over his positive for banned substance clenbuterol ended in Switzerland, Alberto Contador was back in the limelight – at the Saxo Bank team launch for 2012.
Looking far more relaxed in the Copenhagen launch than when he hurried, red-eyed and pensive, from the CAS building last Thursday afternoon, and wearing a team issue tracksuit rather than the sombre dark three-piece suit in which he seemed to live for the whole CAS hearing last week, the launch took it for granted that it will be business as usual for Contador next year.
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Rather than try to win the Giro d’Italia for a third time, though, Contador will focus solely on winning the Tour de France, then race the Olympic time trial, with the Vuelta a Espana remaining a possibility for his second half of the season.
That, of course, depends on whether he is cleared in January by CAS – a subject about which Contador refused to comment on Tuesday morning, simply saying “that happened last week.”
As for the team, Riis was quoted as saying “some people say our team isn’t strong enough but I don’t agree. I’m very satisfied with it.”
“I want to go for the Tour all out,” Contador added, “because last year after the Giro I was exhausted.”
“After the Tour I think I will do the Olympic time trial, although it is too early to know for sure and the route is better suited to other riders. I don’t rule out the Vuelta, there’s a big chance of that.”
The key reinforcements for Saxo Bank, who have 29 riders, are in the Grand Tours, with Tour de France stage winners Karsten Kroon (ex-BMC) and Sergio Paulinho (ex-RadioShack) both joining. The biggest loss is arguably Richie Porte, who is now with Sky.
The team now heads to Israel for a training camp until December 11th, where they will be working on a series of charity projects, including building a school for Palestinian and Jewish children, as well as events designed to promote bike use, such as the first ever criterium to be held in Jerusalem. Another training camp will take place in January in the Canary Islands.