FELTRE, Italy (VN) ─ Neil Stephens had a front-row seat during the Miguel Indurain era as a racer and he’s seen the rise of Alberto Contador as a sport director working in the peloton. The ex-pro said the two Spanish riders have very different racing styles that result in the same thing: winning stage races.
“Miguel is a bigger stronger guy. He had to be more measuring with himself, more calculated , more cold and calculating,” Stephens told VeloNews. “Alberto rides on emotion. He is a very fiery and energetic rider and goes as he feels.”
Stephens is visiting the Giro during the final week as part of a group of key personnel of the Aussie-back GreenEDGE project,which will field a team next season.
“When [Indurain] was riding he was criticized for being cold and calculating, but he went on and won five Tours. He did what he had to do. He is a big guy and couldn’t be as fiery and lively on the mountains. His thing was not to lose much time on the mountains and build gaps in the time trials,” Stephens continued. “Alberto is fiery and energetic. He is emotional as a person. We have all seen that in the past couple of years. Emotion , passion, he lives bike riding. He loves to win. He has always said in the past that ‘no one has given me anything’. He said he has had to fight for his life. He has had some pretty strong things happen to him in his life and he takes out his anger on the bike.”
Stephens said he’s seeing Contador use the pent up emotions from his pending clenbuterol doping case as an advantage in this Giro. Contador says he’s innocent and that traces of clenbuterol entered his system via food contamination. He faces up to a two-year ban and disqualification of the 2010 Tour de France. His case is scheduled before CAS in early June, barely a week after the 2011 Giro concludes.
“No I dont think so. He has had a lot of stuff bottled up inside and I think he tends to express himself through his pedals which is good,” Stephens said. “Sometimes we make mistakes by expressing ourselves with words and that s mistake. He is expressing himself with his pedals and its great.”