Ictus prize given to Contador to mark recovery from brain condition
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Ictus prize given to Contador to mark recovery from brain condition

by Conal Andrews at 7:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France

Describing his recovery from the brain haemorrhage he suffered in 2004 as the most important part of his life, Alberto Contador has dedicated an award he has received to doctors working to treat such problems.

Yesterday the double Tour de France winner was given the Ictus Prize by the Spanish Neurological Society in Madrid, marking his successful fight back from the collapse he suffered.

“I am really pleased," he stated, “but I think we must give it to all physicians working on this disease.”

The award is named after the condition ‘cerebrovascular ictus,’ which refers to a suddenly-occuring stroke or seizure related to the blood vessels supplying the brain.

Contador suffered a sudden occurrence of the condition when he was preparing for what would have been his first Tour.

“For me it happened in May 2004 when I was fully focused on the preparation of the Tour de France,” he said. “I had severe headaches but tried to continue focusing on my two-day-race in the neighbourhood of Madrid. On the second day I really had to get off the bike and go in the car.”

"Two days later in the Tour of Asturias I kept feeling cold and finally I crashed. At that time no one thought of ictus. I spent a week in the hospital of Oviedo and then it happened again. We rushed to the emergency room in Ramón y Cajal. Dr. Luis Manzano and his team saved my life. They detected that the cavernoma was due to a malformation from birth.”

Contador indicated that he thought his career was at an end, but the doctors were able to salvage the situation.

"After much discussion the doctors decided to operate, and with success,” he said, referring to the process that has left him with a scar running from one ear to another and across the top of his head. “I will never forget that day of November 27th when they told me everything went well.”

For him, it’s by far the most significant moment to date and, because of the seriousness of the situation, lists his successful return to racing as a bigger achievement than his subsequent Tour wins.

“It’s the most important day in my life, much more so than the days I won the Tour de France. My biggest victory on the bike is not the Tour de France, but the queen stage I won in the Tour Down Under, my first victory after my operation.”

Contador won that Tour Down Under stage in 2005, and took stages in the Setmana Catalana, the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and the Tour de Romandie. He also won the overall classification in the Setmana Catalana and was 31st in his first Tour de France, at 22 years of age.

He won the Tour in 2007 and again this year. The Spaniard has made a complete recovery from his brain condition, although he reportedly has to take medication to avoid epileptic fits.


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