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Reigning Giro d’Italia champ Alberto Contador says he probably will not defend his title next season despite giving a thumb’s up to the route announced Sunday by race organizers.
Contador, who is still facing his unresolved clenbuterol case, says he has his sites set on the Tour de France next season.
“It’s good for me and if it was just what my heart said, I’d be there,” Contador said Sunday. “Next year I am going to think about different objectives, above all the Tour de France. Although you can never say never, next year I will not be back.”
The Saxo Bank-Sungard rider’s fate will be decided in the coming weeks with a long-awaited hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport set for the final week of November.
Contador could face up to a two-year ban and the loss of his 2010 Tour de France crown for testing positive for traces of clenbuterol during the second rest day of the 2010 Tour.
However, two recent decisions by the World Anti-Doping Agency to drop appeals against athletes who have tested positive for clenbuterol bolster Contador’s hopes that he will cleared of the allegations.
Contador, meanwhile, said the Tour will be his top focus for the coming season, assuming CAS clears him.
“I want to return to Italy next year and I will race at Tirreno-Adriatico,” he said. “It’s a race that I do not have on my palmares.”
Contador, who was dominant in his 2011 victory at the Giro, said next year’s edition looks easier than what the peloton faced this season.
“As always, (the Giro) is beautiful, but without the extreme difficulty of last year,” he said. “The first two weeks are flatter, but the finales are nervous, and along with the bonuses, will mean that the favorites will always have to be attentive. The third week is the decisive one for the mountains.”