Alberto Contador (SaxoBank-Sungard) says his overall victory at the Volta a Catalunya is not some sort of message to the UCI.
Contador clinched the win of the 100th anniversary of the race in Barcelona on Sunday, a victory that was overshadowed by the UCI’s decision on Thursday to appeal Contador’s clenbuterol case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“It’s not answering to anything,” Contador said. “What I like to do is compete and when I go to a race, I go to race 100 percent. I came to the Volta to test myself, and on Wednesday, I felt very good in Andorra and I managed to win. For this, I am very happy and for my team.”
Contador won his second stage-race in three starts since returning to competition in mid-February following the stunning decision by the Spanish cycling federation to clear him on clenbuterol allegations.
Contador was fourth at his first race back at the Volta ao Algarve and then won two stages and the overall at the Vuelta a Murcia three weeks ago. He started the week-long Catalunya tour for the first time of his career intent on testing his form against a field stacked with Tour de France contenders.
Without a time trial or time bonuses in play, the race was all but decided in the climbing stage finishing high in Andorra on Wednesday. Contador attacked and soloed home to victory 23 seconds ahead of the chasing Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre).
Contador said the victory was far from easy.
“It was very hard, harder than other races where we had to control with mountains,” Contador said. “The breakaways would take a long time to form, up to 60km to 80km, and I even had to go on the attack sometimes. These past four days have been very hard, but also very good for the upcoming races.”
Contador vows to keep racing despite the threat of the UCI appeal hanging over his head.
His temporary suspension was lifted when the Spanish disciplinary committee decided to not ban him on the clenbuterol charges. He is allowed to continue to race up until CAS rules against him.
Contador could face a two-year ban and disqualification of his 2010 Tour de France victory if he loses the appeal in CAS.
Up next for Contador will be the five-day Vuelta a Castilla y León (April 13-17) and a likely run at the Ardennes classics, with Flèche Wallonne tentatively on his schedule. He remains focused on the Giro d’Italia and refuses to speculate on what might happen after that.
Everyone is hopeful for resolution to the ongoing “caso Contador” before July, but CAS officials told Reuters last week there’s a possibility that a decision on the complicated case might not come before the July 2 start of the 2011 Tour.
Saxo Bank-Sungard officials said they prefer to savor the victory and keep focused on racing.
“Alberto’s has proven to be a truly world class pro and remained focused on the job throughout the week,” said Saxo Bank-SunGard sports director Dan Frost in a team release. “It’s the first time the team wins here and it’s Alberto (Contador) first time to participate in the race and winning the anniversary version of the race simply makes the win even sweeter. A great win for Alberto and a great win for the team.”