Alberto Contador is so happy with his pink jersey that he says he wouldn’t want to swap it for a yellow jersey even if the Tour de France organizers change their minds about his team’s exclusion.
The defending Tour champ secured overall victory at the Giro d’Italia in Sunday’s final-day time trial and said the unexpected victory makes up for the controversial exclusion his Astana team from the 2008 Tour.
“They took a decision that I don’t like and it looks like they’re not going to change their minds,” said Contador, who won the Giro in 1:57 over Riccardo Riccò. “After winning such a hard and demanding Giro, I wouldn’t be able to go to the Tour anyway.”
In March, Tour officials surprised the cycling world by overlooking Contador’s Astana team following a string of doping scandals involving the team during the 2007 season.
A shakeup in team management that saw ex-Discovery Channel boss come on board late last year as well as the introduction of an independent anti-doping program wasn’t enough to convince Tour officials to offer the team one of the 20 places in cycling’s biggest race.
Giro officials also barred Astana from the 91st edition, but changed their minds just a week before the race started May 10 in Sicily, on the condition that Contador and the team’s other top riders were part of the nine-man squad.
Contador, who was vacationing on the beach with his girlfriend in Spain, slowly built confidence after the unexpected trip to Italy.
He opened up big time gaps in the stage 10 time trial and fended off his Italian rivals across the Dolomites and Alps to carry a four-second lead to Milan for Sunday’s final-day time trial.
“This is my Tour de France for me this year. I prefer to win this Giro than win a second Tour,”