Sunday, May 29, 2011
Alberto Contador claims another Giro
MILAN -- If Alberto Contador's unstoppable form on the bike translates to the courtroom, he's got a good shot at an unprecedented sweep of cycling's three grand tours in one season.
The Spaniard captured his second Giro d'Italia title Sunday to give himself a chance at completing the historic feat with victories in the Tour de France and the Spanish Vuelta this summer. While he looks up to any challenge he'll meet on the road, his doping appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport looms as a potential roadblock.
Contador tested positive for the banned stimulant clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France, but was cleared of doping by the Spanish cycling federation after he blamed the result on eating contaminated beef.
The win gives Alberto Contador his sixth grand tour victory. He now could try for a sweep of the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Spanish Vuelta in a single season.
Cycling's governing body and the World Anti-Doping Agency appealed that ruling to the CAS. The hearing was set for June 6-8, but on Thursday CAS announced it was pushing the date back to later in the summer.
With no new date in place, Contador remained tightlipped about a bid to become the first cyclist to win the Giro, Tour and Vuelta in the same year.
"For now I want to enjoy this win, then we'll see," he said. "I'll have to speak to the team management. I feel tired, but I don't really want to think about it for now.
"My objective was to win and I want to enjoy the win. We haven't prepared for the Tour. We shall see how my recovery goes and then we will make a decision."
Contador pounded his chest and celebrated with his traditional pistol shot gesture on Sunday as he finished third in the 16-mile individual time trial around Milan to beat his closest overall rival, Michele Scarponi, by more than six minutes.
The Spaniard crossed the line in Milan's Piazza del Duomo 36 seconds behind stage winner David Millar's time of 30 minutes, 13 seconds.
"It is an amazing feeling to win the Giro here today and it is a dream finale," Contador said. "My team was really supportive throughout and we didn't really have a bad day.
Contador added to his 2008 Giro title by winning with an overall time of 84:05:14 to notch his sixth grand tour victory. He captured the Tour de France in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and the Vuelta in 2008. He is one of five cyclists to have completed a career sweep of the grand tours.
Contador was unchallenged in this year's Giro after taking the lead by winning the ninth stage on Mount Etna in Sicily.
Local favorites Scarponi and Vincenzo Nibali were unable to keep pace with him whenever he attacked on the mountain stages and they had to watch the Spaniard open a morale-sapping lead as the race progressed. Scarponi finished 6:10 behind and Nibali was another 46 seconds back.
"Myself and Vincenzo fought to the end, but it wasn't to be," Scarponi said. "Alberto Contador was stronger than all of us. He's stronger than everyone. I'm happy with second though and I've had a good Giro."
Contador only added one other stage win -- the 16th from Belluno to Nevegal -- but was second on four occasions to keep Scarponi and Nibali at bay.
"It is an incredible feeling," the Spaniard said. "It seemed that it was easy, but it wasn't at all and it is a special win after the short preparation that I had."