With nearly all the major Tour de France hopefuls lining up this week at the Tour of the Basque Country, Alberto Contador has gone to the mountains.
Contador is a two-time winner of the Basque tour (2008-09), but is skipping this year’s challenging edition to head to the Andalusian hills instead. Contador is training this week in Sierra Nevada in southern Spain to prepare for the Giro d’Italia.
“Everything is going according to plan with Alberto,” Saxo Bank-Sungard boss Bjarne Riis told the Danish daily Politiken. “He is staying this week at altitude, where he is training intensely.”
Sierra Nevada, with one of Europe’s highest paved roads, is a popular training center for scores of athletes. The Spanish government runs a high-altitude training facility at 2,340m (7,720 feet), though it’s not confirmed if Contador is staying there.
Contador has made the most of his racing schedule since the Spanish cycling federation cleared him on clenbuterol charges in mid-February, when it lifted his temporary racing ban and opened the door for his return to competition.
Contador has since finished fourth at the Volta ao Algarve and won both the Murcia and Catalunya tours. He’s scheduled next to race at the Vuelta a Castilla y León (April 13-17) and Flèche Wallonne (April 20) before a run at the Giro’s maglia rosa.
Rules allow Contador to continue racing despite appeals filed by both the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency. The Court of Arbitration for Sport has promised it will decide on the case before the start of the 2011 Tour de France, set to begin July 3.