Alberto Contador: “Bjarne Riis is still looking for reinforcements”
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alberto Contador: “Bjarne Riis is still looking for reinforcements”

by Ben Atkins at 5:08 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Giro d’Italia winner hoping for stronger support in the mountains of next year’s Tour de France

alberto contadorSaxo Bank-SunGard manager Bjarne Riis is still on the lookout for reinforcements to the team that will support Alberto Contador in his quest for a fourth Tour de France, according to The Giro d’Italia winner, who was fifth in this year’s Tour after falling victim to a number of crashes an delays in the first week, was speaking to sport and physical education students at the University of Alcalá de Henares in Madrid.

"Riis is still working to see if we can get some reinforcement, especially a climber,” he explained. “I would be delighted, but I know that it is difficult and all riders have their interests.

"I am very confident in my team,” he added, “and also because next season it won't be like this year.”

What Contador is also confident in, is that the team has “all the right equipment” to arrive at the start of the Tour next July "in the best possible conditions."

The three-time Tour winner, who also has two Giri d’Italia and a Vuelta a España to his name, attended the presentation of the 2012 course in Paris on Friday, and professes to like what he saw.

"I think it’s a compete Tour,” he said, “which has tough stages although you don't have any mountaintop finishes on mythical climbs. My qualities can be adapted quite well.”

Contador’s biggest rival, in two of his three Tour victories, was three-time runner-up Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek). The Luxembourg rider will likely be a challenger again in 2012, even though the number of time trial kilometres does not suit him, and with his team merging with RadioShack he is likely to put up even more of a challenge.

"It is a merger that I would have preferred did not occur,“ said Contador. “It joins the experience and the quality of riders in one team with another; but it also means a challenge and a motivation for me."

One of the biggest barriers to a fourth Contador Tour victory though, are the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appeals to the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) against the acquittal for his clenbuterol positive in 2010. Should the CAS verdict go against the Spaniard, he will find himself reduced to a two-time winner, and likely lose his 2011 Giro title too, but he professes to feel confident about the outcome.

“I have nothing more to say about it,” he said. “I am very optimistic about the outcome; I expect that it will be favourable. I’m confident that will be the case.”

Should the UCI and WADA appeals be rejected, and Contador is able to ride next year’s Tour, Riis will find a ready supply of reinforcements in the Geox-TMC. Thanks to the withdrawal of principle sponsor Geox, the team is likely to either fold altogether or drastically downsize. Riis may even be tempted by the prospect of 2011 Vuelta a España winner Juan José Cobo, or even two-time Vuelta and one-time Giro winner Denis Menchov, particularly if the CAS finds against Contador,


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