Tour de France 2011 press conferences photo gallery by Andy Jones>>  

In a tense pre-Tour press conference, defending champion Alberto Contador fended off accusations of being “under a huge doping cloud, never having made a clear statement against doping and having always ridden for teams that were implicated in doping.”

The Saxo Bank rider responded to the journalist who asked him, “You must be misinformed. I have always been 100 percent anti-doping. But everybody is free to think what they want.”

Asked how he felt about racing to win a Tour that he might lose a month later if the CAS decision over his clenbuterol case went against him, Contador retorted “it would be ridiculous.”

“I have won a lot of races this season, and I’ve been tested after each victory. Few other riders have been as tested as me.”

Contador’s director Bjarne Riis – himself not free of controversy – had weighed in earlier on the same subject, saying “I don’t see why Alberto should be punished or suspended when he’s been cleared.”

“If you don’t agree with the solution then you should question the system, not so much us or him.”

“We have to respect the system as it is.”

Alberto Contador, Saxo Bank, Tour de France 2011 press conference



Alberto Contador (centre) with team manager Bjarne Riis (right)

Contador did say that he believed he could handle the pressure, because “Many times it is worse off the roads on it, but you just have to concentrate on what you are doing.”

He also revealed that he was not too pleased with the Tour route, either and was worried about his condition after winning one of the toughest Giros on record.

“I would have been a lot happier with three time trials, one at the beginning, one about 30 kilometres in the middle and one about 30 kilometres at the end, rather than just the one this race has got.”

“I don’t know how my body is going to respond to this, the Giro was very hard and you don’t know how it’s going to react to yet another big Tour, running over a three week period. I have my doubts. Of course I have them – I’ve never done a double like this before.”

As for rivals, there were no surprises in Contador’s list, with Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) singled out as top potential contenders.

“I’ve heard that Gesink has been training very hard at altitude and he’ll be fighting for the overall. And if I had to mention a single challenge, then of course it would be Andy.”

“But there will be a large number of riders fighting for the overall. It’s going to be very tough.”

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  • John

    The guy has been cleared and is a professional sportsman who needs to make a living like any other person. I think the people suggesting that he should sit out the tour should ask themselves if they were investigated in their workplace and then cleared by an authority figure would they then resign to please others views? The authority figure is the one that people should be asking hard questions of.

  • David

    Alberto’s answers sound very reminiscent of one Lance Armstrong!

  • Lucas

    No Bjarne, he was only cleared by his own federation, and that being Spain, who is surprised.
    I say again, dont let him ride when he is under investigation. When he is found guilty after the Tour it will only make the sport look stupid. Again.

  • Jon

    “We have to respect the system as it is.”
    Sorry Bjarne I’m finding that one a bit tricky – you mean a system where some riders (and their retired doper directeurs sportifs) whip out a flimsy excuse and the authorities let them off the hook or manage to engineer a situation whereby they are still riding almost a year later. Is it just a case of paying off the right people? What on earth is going on over there?