Riis still committed to a Contador bid to win three Grand Tours
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Riis still committed to a Contador bid to win three Grand Tours

by Shane Stokes at 8:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Dane and Spaniard still debating 2011 Giro goals

alberto ContadorIt wasmentioned last August, then denied by Alberto Contador’s brother and agent Fran Contador, and now confirmed again; Saxo Bank SunGard team owner Bjarne Riis would like to see the rider target victory in all three Grand Tours in the same season.

“In the longer term, I am fully on with the great plan to go after the victory in all three Grand Tours, as Alberto outlined last summer when we began discussions on our future cooperation. But I don’t think the time has come for it yet,” he told Politiken.

Contador has committed to riding the Giro d’Italia in May, and is currently building his form after a long period away from competition. He was suspended after testing positive for Clenbuterol during last year’s Tour de France, but then given the green light to return to racing in February when the Spanish cycling federation RFEC announced that it was clearing him.

That decision may be appealled by the UCI and WADA, who are currently deciding whether or not to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport about it.

In the meantime, Contador is free to race. He placed fourth in his comeback event, the Volta ao Algarve, and then won two stages plus the overall in the Tour de Murcia earlier this month.

Some have questioned the wisdom of trying to target victory in both the Giro and the Tour. Riis is one of those who advises caution, realising that the Italian event is raced in a different fashion to years past, and consequently takes a bigger toll on the body. In recent seasons many of those who have gone deep in the Giro have not performed in the Tour de France, and so he is clearly concerned that Contador might lose out on success in the French event if he tries to win in Italy.

“We have not finished discussing this topic yet. And it may well be that in the end, he goes to Italy with a squad around him that is able to support him to the maximum,” he said. “If he doesn’t start, the team will have a completely different look and it is not likely that we will aim for the general classification.”

Marco Pantani is the last rider to successfully win the two Grand Tours in the same season. He achieved the double thirteen years ago in 1998, and all who have tried since have been unsuccessful.

One reason why Contador could take that gamble is that his Tour de France participation is not certain. The UCI and the Tour de France organisers ASO have both said that they want his situation to be resolved before the start of the race. Missing the Giro or riding it simply to build form would mean that there is a chance he won’t win any Grand Tours this season; that said, if CAS ultimately rules against him, any Giro result would be voided anyway.


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