PARIS (VN) — Alberto Contador was doubly optimistic Tuesday after getting a glimpse of what’s waiting for the peloton in next year’s Tour de France.
The three-time Tour winner told VeloNews he’s increasingly hopeful that he will be cleared in his long-running clenbuterol case following the decision last week by the World Anti-Doping Agency to drop appeals in two similar cases.
“I am optimistic that I will be cleared in the case,” Contador said. “I am confident that my lawyers will be able to reveal the truth and that I will be able to continue racing next year without any problems.”
Contador’s case, dating back to the 2010 Tour, is finally set to be heard in late November. Contador has long argued that traces of clenbuterol entered his system after he ingested contaminated meat, an argument that was bolstered last week when WADA acknowledged that accidental contamination is possible.
Contador, who also was in Italy on Sunday for the Giro d’Italia ceremony, was a surprise guest at Tuesday’s Tour route announcement after skipping last year’s presentation.
Contador kept a low-profile last year as his case was being handled by the Spanish cycling federation. Once cleared by that body, Contador returned to racing to win races at the Murcia and Catalunya tours en route to overall victory at the Giro.
SaxoBank-Sungard boss Bjarne Riis told VeloNews the squad is moving forward on the assumption that Contador will be racing next year.
“Nothing has changed in terms of Contador’s case. We have to wait to hear what CAS has to say,” Riis said. “We are planning the season as if Contador will be racing. I am confident he will be.”
Contador has already said that if he’s absolved by CAS, the Tour will be his top priority in 2012.
“Next year, I will focus on the Tour and not race the Giro,” he said. “The Giro took a lot out of me and I want to be fully prepared for the Tour next year and make that my singular goal.”
For next year’s route, Contador said the nearly 100km of time trials is strongly in his favor.
“This Tour reminds me of 2007,” he said, referring to the first of his three Tour wins. “The route clearly favors the time trialists. I am in the middle, because there are other climbers who defend worse than me in the time trial.”
Contador said that the course is “harder than it looks on paper” and said that he can try to play off the tactics of the other climbers who will need to take time before the two time trials.
“We’ll have to see how the rivals move, above all those who will need to make differences before the final time trial. These riders can be compatible with my interests,” he said. “I miss one more final that would allow more attacks, but it’s obvious that the last week will be decisive, with a stage that ends in Bagneres de Luchon and the final at Peyragudes, after climbing the Bales.”