Alberto Contador turned to a new chapter today at the Eneco Tour in Waalwijk, The Netherlands, on the heels of a doping ban. The 29-year-old Spaniard returned to racing after nearly two years of controversy.
“I just want to enjoy [it],” Contador said in a press conference. “I enjoy training, sacrificing myself to be the best and look forward to enjoying and reach the results.”
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He explained that he was not out for revenge even if he believes the authorities wrongly banned him. At the Tour in 2010, he tested positive for drug Clenbuterol. He went on to win over Andy Schleck, but news of a positive control two months later cast doubt.
He says that the Clenbuterol came from a contaminated steak he ate on the Tour’s second rest day in Pau. The drug, however, may be purposely used to help weight loss and breathing. In other words, it is strictly banned at any level.
Contador added, “What is clear is that this legislation is outdated and all relevant authorities know this, but do nothing to change it.”
Contador tested positive for 50 picograms or 0.000 000 000 05 grams of the drug. The Spanish federation acquitted him, but the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) appealed the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The CAS said that he failed to give evidence to show he was not at fault and banned Contador.
The UCI stripped him of several wins, including 2010 Tour de France. Schleck took over the title, but many riders and fans felt cheated.
The Eneco Tour, today’s 203.9km stage won by Marcel Kittel, marks a new chapter: Contador Part II. He is building form for the Vuelta a España and a full 2013 return.
He will race the Vuelta a España, from August 18 to September 9, the World Championships and the Tour of Lombardy. Bjarne Riis not only supported him in his ban, but re-upped his contract for three years, through 2015.
He has a lot of weight on his shoulders. Riis’ Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team needs Contador to be successful following a dreadful season, the Spanish media look to him to sell cycling in its newspapers and big race organisers, the Tour and the Giro, need convincing winners, not ticking time bombs
Contador is one of a five to have won all three Grand Tours in his career. He is also one of only two, including Floyd Landis, to be stripped of a Tour title. His new chapter, all interested parties hope, will be better than the first.
Marcel Kittel wins the opening stage of 2012 Eneco Tour