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Today, the Giro; tomorrow, the Tour? That depends — on Alberto Contador and the Court of Arbitration for Sport

Will Alberto Contador race the Tour de France? That depends on how he recovers — and how the Court of Arbitration for Sport rules on his ongoing clenbuterol case.

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MILANO, Italy (VN) — Alberto Contador barely wiped the sweat off his brow Sunday after dominating the Giro d’Italia before turning his attention to a possible start in July’s Tour de France.

Delays in his ongoing doping case could open the door for his participation in this summer’s Tour, even though he’s facing a possible two-year doping ban and disqualification from his 2010 Tour victory.

“I will speak with my directors and we’ll see how I recover and then we’ll make a decision (about the Tour),” Contador said Sunday. “And concerning the 2010 Tour, that Tour is mine. No one can take it away from me. Absolutely nobody.”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport will have the final word on that, but when is the critical question concerning Contador and a possible start in July’s Tour. A three-day appeal hearing set for early June has been postponed.

Legal representatives are set to meet this week to reschedule a hearing date, but sources in Spain told journalists last week that the hearing could be pushed back to August or September. If that’s the case, Contador could possibly race the Tour.

Tour officials have remained mum on the issue since the possibility of Contador lining up at the Tour surfaced last week. On Sunday, Giro d’Italia race director Angelo Zomegnan defended Contador’s presence in the Giro.

Saxo Bank-Sungard boss Bjarne Riis stoutly defended Contador’s right to be able to race despite the unsettled clenbuterol case.

“At the moment there’s no reason why Alberto cannot ride the Tour,” Riis told journalists this week at the Giro. “He was declared innocent and he’s been cleared to race. We’ve got to respect that.”

Contador deflected questions about the Tour and said he wants to savor his dominant Giro victory.

“The different between this Giro and my 2008 win is that in 2008 I was obligated to go by sponsors. I thought I would race a week and go home, but I started to feel better and got motivated to keep racing. In 2008, I was fighting to minimize my losses whereas this year I could attack to gain time,” he said. “This year, we had a very clear plan and we were very concentrated on winning this Giro. I have the satisfaction of doing a job well done.”

Contador was clearly annoyed by queries about his clenbuterol case. When asked what he should say to cynics who no longer believe in cycling, he answered: “I would tell them to go to the Zoncolan, to the Marmolada, to the piazza here in Milano, and see how many people believe in cycling.”

When pressed on whether the unresolved clenbuterol case somehow stained his Giro victory, Contador tersely replied: “Next question.”

If Contador is allowed to race the Tour in July, he can expect more questions about his case, whether he likes it or not. Contador, however, clearly prefers to let his legs do the talking.

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