Endurance: Alberto Contador

Tour door opens for Alberto Contador

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
12:00
PM ET
Alberto ContadorJaime Reina/Getty ImagesHis team granted a WorldTour license, Alberto Contador can begin his Tour preparations in earnest.
Like him or not, Alberto Contador is all but sure to be back at the Tour de France next season.

Saxo-Tinkoff Bank's final-hour ProTeam license awarded this week assures that Contador will return to the Tour for the first time since 2011 -- and will be able to prepare fully for the first time since 2010.

Barring injury or another major setback, the Spanish superstar will be the centerpiece in the battle for the yellow jersey after being sidelined this season due to his backdated clenbuterol ban.

And his rivals know that when Contador is in the race, things get electric very quickly.

"Contador will be back in the Tour next year," said Sky's Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour winner. "Alberto changes any races he's in."

Contador's aggression in the mountains dramatically alters the dynamics of any race when he's at the start line. Unlike many pros who target only certain events, the Spaniard typically races for the win in just about every race he starts.

Riders inside the peloton admit that this year's Tour -- and even 2011 when he was not in top shape -- simply wasn't the same without the Contador factor.

"Alberto will be back next year and you know he will be extra motivated to win," 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) said at the Tour presentation in October. "He is always a hard competitor. He always races to win."

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