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Alberto Contador

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Alberto Contador
Alberto Contador, at the 2010 Tour de France
Alberto Contador, at the 2010 Tour de France
Personal information
Full name Alberto Contador Velasco
Nickname El Pistolero
Date of birth 6 December 1982 (1982-12-06) (age 27)
Place of birth Pinto, Madrid, Spain
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
Weight 62 kg (140 lb)
Team information
Current team Astana
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Rider type All-rounder/Climbing specialist
Professional team(s)
Discovery Channel
Major wins
Grand Tours
Tour de France
(2007, 2009, 2010)
Vuelta a España
Giro d'Italia

Stage Races

(2007, 2010)
Vuelta al País Vasco
(2008, 2009)
Vuelta a Castilla y León
(2007, 2008, 2010)
Volta ao Algarve
(2009, 2010)

Single-Day Races and Classics

Spanish National Time Trial Championship


UCI World Ranking
Velo d'Or
(2007, 2008, 2009)
Infobox last updated on
24 September 2010

Alberto Contador Velasco (Spanish pronunciation: [alˈβeɾto kontaˈðoɾ beˈlasko]; born 6 December 1982) is a Spanish professional road bicycle racer for UCI ProTeam Astana. He was the winner of the 2007 Tour de France with the Discovery Channel team. With the Astana team he has won the 2008 Giro d'Italia, the 2008 Vuelta a España, the 2009 Tour de France, and the 2010 Tour de France. He is the fifth racer in history, and the first Spaniard, to win all three Grand Tours of road cycling.

Contador has been referred to as the best climbing specialist and stage racer in the world.[1][2] Notable summit stage finishes on which he has victories include the Alto de El Angliru in the Vuelta and the Plateau de Beille in the Tour.[3] After being widely expected to lose his tenuous lead in the 2007 Tour de France in that race's final individual time trial,[4][5] Contador has become a more accomplished time trialist, with several victories in the discipline. He has earned a reputation as an all-rounder, a cyclist who excels in all aspects of stage racing which are needed for high places in the general classification.

Contador's career has been marked by occasional doping allegations, the foremost of which, the Operación Puerto doping case, led his Astana-Würth team (a team unrelated in composition to the one for which he currently rides, despite the same sponsor) to withdraw en masse from the 2006 Tour de France before it began. He was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, but was also accused of doping after his victory in the race the following year.[6] In September 2010, Contador announced that he had tested positive for clenbuterol in a control taken during that year's Tour de France, but maintains his innocence.[7]


[edit] Personal life and early career

Contador was born in Pinto in the Community of Madrid, the third of four children. He has an older brother and sister and a younger brother, who has cerebral palsy. Having previously practiced other sports, such as football and athletics, Contador discovered cycling at the age of 14 thanks to his elder brother Francisco Javier.[8]

When Contador was 15, he began to compete in races at the amateur level in Spain, joining the Real Velo Club Portillo from Madrid. Although he got no victories that year or the next, he demonstrated great qualities and was soon nicknamed Pantani (after Marco Pantani, regarded as one of the best climbers of all time) for his climbing skills.[9] In 2000, he experienced his first victories, winning several mountains classification prizes from prominent events on the Spanish amateur cycling calendar.[8]

He dropped out of school at the age of 16 without having finished his Bachillerato and signed with Iberdrola-Loinaz, a youth team run by Manolo Saiz, manager of the professional ONCE cycling team. In 2001, he won the under-23 Spanish time trial championship.[10]

Contador lives with his long-time girlfriend Macarena in the city of Madrid when not competing, and enjoys hunting in his spare time. He has a fascination for birds, keeping personally bred canaries and goldfinches at home.[11][12]

[edit] Professional career

[edit] ONCE/Liberty Seguros (2004–2006)

Contador turned professional in 2003 for ONCE-Eroski. In his first year as a professional he won the eighth stage of the Tour de Pologne, an individual time trial. During the first stage of the 2004 Vuelta a Asturias he started to feel unwell, and after 40 kilometers he fell and went into convulsions. He had been suffering from headaches for several days beforehand and was diagnosed with a cerebral cavernoma, a congenital vascular disorder, for which he underwent risky surgery and a recovery to get back on his bike.[2] As a result of the surgery, he has a scar that runs from one ear to the other over the top of his head.[13] Contador started to train again at the end of 2004 and eight months after the surgery he won the fifth stage of the 2005 Tour Down Under racing for Liberty Seguros, as the team previously known as ONCE had become.[10] He went on to win the third stage and the overall classification of the Setmana Catalana, thus winning his first stage race as a professional. He also won an individual time trial during the Vuelta al País Vasco, where he finished third, and the fourth stage of the Tour de Romandie, where he finished fourth overall.[3]

In 2006, he won stages at the Tour de Romandie and Tour de Suisse in preparation for the Tour de France. Prior to the start of the race he was implicated along with several teammates in the Operación Puerto doping case by the Spanish authorities, and the team was not able to start. He was later cleared by the Union Cycliste Internationale, cycling's governing body.[14] Contador returned to racing in the Vuelta a Burgos but he crashed after finishing fifth in stage 4, when he was riding back down to the team bus, and briefly lost consciousness.[15]

[edit] 2007 season

After having been implicated in the Operación Puerto doping case, Contador was without a professional contract until mid-January 2007, when he signed with Discovery Channel.[16]

A man with yellow clothes and a blue helmet, riding on a bicycle. In the background some spectators.
Contador wearing the yellow jersey during the 19th stage of the 2007 Tour de France.

Contador's first major professional victory came with the 2007 Paris–Nice, which he won on the race's final stage. Discovery effectively wore down the remnants of the race leader Davide Rebellin's Gerolsteiner team, allowing Contador to launch an attack on the final climb. With Rebellin leading the chase, Contador held off his competitors in the final kilometers, winning him the race.[17]

In the 2007 Tour de France, he won a stage at the mountaintop finish of Plateau-de-Beille, and was second in the general classification to Michael Rasmussen.[18] Upon Rasmussen's removal from the race before stage 17 for lying to his team about his pre-race training whereabouts,[19] Contador assumed the overall lead and the yellow jersey, though he did not don it until after the stage.[20] In the stage 19 individual time trial, he managed to defy expectations and keep hold of the yellow jersey by a margin of only 23 seconds over challenger Cadel Evans and 31 seconds over teammate Levi Leipheimer. As this was the Tour's penultimate stage, it was the last real competition of the race (since the final stage is traditionally non-competitive save for a bunched sprint to the finish line) and it secured Contador his first Tour de France victory.[21] It is the closest the top three finishers in the Tour de France have ever finished to one another.[22]

After Discovery Channel announced 2007 would be its final season in professional cycling, Contador announced on 23 October 2007 that he would move to the Astana team for 2008.[23]

[edit] 2008 season

A man in pink clothes and pink shoes, sitting ducked down on a bicycle. In the background people are watching.
Contador wearing the pink jersey during the 21st stage of 2008 Giro d'Italia.

On 13 February 2008, the organizer of the Tour de France, the Amaury Sport Organisation, announced that Astana would not be invited to any of their events in 2008 due to the doping previously perpetrated by Astana, despite the fact that its management and most of its ridership had changed before the 2008 season.[24] Consequently, Contador was unable to defend his 2007 Paris–Nice and 2007 Tour de France victories. He went on to win his second Vuelta a Castilla y León, as well as the Vuelta al País Vasco by winning the opening stage and the final individual time trial. His next scheduled race and objective was the Dauphiné Libéré but his team received an invite to the 2008 Giro d'Italia one week prior to the start of the race. Contador was on a beach in Spain when he was told he was going to ride the Giro.[25]

A man in yellow clothes and blue shoes, riding a bicycle, followed by a car. People are watching him from behind a fence.
Contador wearing the golden jersey during the 20th stage of the 2008 Vuelta a España.

Despite the lack of preparation, he finished second in the first individual time trial and took the pink jersey after the 15th stage up to Passo Fedaia. Upon winning the final pink jersey in Milan, he became the first non-Italian to win the Giro d'Italia since Pavel Tonkov in 1996 and also the second Spanish rider to win the Giro after Miguel Indurain won in 1992 and 1993. He later emphasized the importance of this win by saying that "taking part in the Giro and winning it was a really big achievement, bigger than if I'd had a second victory in the Tour de France".[26]

At the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, Contador competed in the road race and the individual road time trial. He did not finish in the road race, in which 53 of the 143 starters did not complete the course in particularly hot and humid conditions.[27] He placed fourth in the individual time trial, eight seconds behind his regular teammate Leipheimer.[28]

Contador entered the 2008 Vuelta a España as the main candidate to win. His biggest challenger was likely to be compatriot Carlos Sastre, who had won the Tour de France just a month before.[26] Contador won stage 13 by attacking on the fabled Angliru climb and this resulted in him capturing the golden jersey as the leader of the race. He extended his lead by winning stage 14 to Fuentes de Invierno and maintained his lead in subsequent flat stages and the final time trial. That final time trial was won by Leipheimer by a wide margin. Contador later took some offense to Leipheimer seemingly riding with winning the Vuelta in mind, after it had been established earlier in the race that Contador was Astana's team leader.[29] In the final standings, Contador finished 46 seconds ahead of Leipheimer and more than four minutes ahead of Sastre.[30] The win made him the fifth cyclist to win all three Grand Tours, after Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, and Bernard Hinault.[31] In the process he also became the first Spaniard,[32] youngest (age 25),[33] and shortest amount of time to accumulate all three wins (15 months).[34] He also became only the third cyclist to win the Giro and the Vuelta in the same year, joining Merckx (who did it in 1973) and Giovanni Battaglin (who did it in 1981).[8]

Later in the year, Contador won the Vélo d'Or award for the best rider of the year for the second consecutive season. The Giro and Vuelta winner beat Olympic time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara and Tour winner Carlos Sastre in a vote by international cycling writers.[35]

[edit] 2009 season

On 9 September 2008, the seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong announced that he was returning to professional cycling with the express goal of participating in the 2009 Tour de France.[36] Astana manager Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong's former mentor and sporting director, said that he could not allow Armstrong riding for another team and later signed him. The announcement by Armstrong clashed with the ambitions of Contador, who insisted he deserved the leadership of Astana, and hinted at the possibility of leaving the team if he was given a secondary role supporting Armstrong.[37] Contador was later given assurances by Bruyneel that he would remain team leader and decided to remain at Astana for the 2009 season.[38] Contador later claimed the situation was drastically overblown by the media.[39] Contador decided to miss the 2009 Giro d'Italia to focus on winning the Tour de France.[40]

Contador started his 2009 season at the Volta ao Algarve race in Portugal, winning the overall classification, placing second on stage 3, and winning the decisive 33 km individual time trial.[41] He was in position to win Paris–Nice again after winning the prologue and the toughest mountain stage, but suffered a breakdown in stage 7, losing his yellow jersey to fellow Spaniard Luis Leon Sánchez. Contador and his Astana team later blamed the breakdown on Contador eating inadequately, leaving him without the energy to chase attacks.[42] Contador finished fourth overall. Contador continued his build up to the Tour by racing the Dauphiné Libéré. He put in a strong performance of the opening time trial and stayed in touch with race leader Cadel Evans on the longer time trial.[43] However, the strong ride of compatriot Alejandro Valverde up the Ventoux distanced Contador and he rode to help Valverde take the Yellow Jersey while finishing comfortably in third place overall.[44]

A man in yellow clothes, with a yellow helmet and yellow handgloves, riding a bicycle. Just behind him is another cyclist, in blue clothes.
Contador wearing the yellow jersey at the Champs-Élysées stage of the 2009 Tour de France.

On 26 June 2009, Contador competed in the Time Trial of the Spanish National Championships. He stated that he entered the race in order to gain more experience on his new Trek TT bike, but he came away with a convincing victory over Luis León Sánchez, the defending champion, winning by 37 seconds. This is his first National Championship as a professional.

Contador won Stage 15 of the 2009 Tour de France by soloing to the finish line more than a minute ahead of most of his closest GC competitors, and in so doing took the general classification leader's yellow jersey.[45] He then extended his lead on Stage 17, after finishing second in a breakaway of three riders with the same time as the stage winner, and then the next day he won the second time trial, increasing his overall advantage to more than four minutes.[46][47]

Contador won his second Tour de France on 26 July 2009 with a winning margin of 4'11" over Andy Schleck. He finished 5'24" ahead of Lance Armstrong, who finished third in his return to the Tour after a four year absence.[48] Contador has won the last four Grand Tour races that he has entered. During the celebration at the podium, the organizers of the Tour wrongly played the Danish National Anthem instead of the Spanish Royal March.[49][50] In the aftermath of the tour, Contador and Armstrong engaged in a war of words, with Contador quoted as saying that, although Armstrong "is a great rider and [..] did a great Tour[, but] on a personal level [..] I have never admired him and never will", and Armstrong responding that "a champion is also measured on how much he respects his teammates and opponents."[51] The sniping caused others, such as the director of the Tour, to wonder "what it would have been like to have had Contador and Armstrong in different teams."[51]

On 31 July, Contador's agent (who is also his brother) announced that Contador had turned down an offer to remain with Astana under a new four-year contract because he had felt so uncomfortable being caught between the Kazakhstan owners of the team on one side and Bruyneel on the other, and he was hoping to leave Astana at the end of the year, although his contract does not expire until the end of 2010.[52] However, on 11 August, Contador's teammate and close friend Sérgio Paulinho accepted a two-year contract with Team RadioShack, indicating that Contador might not be able to leave Astana as readily as he and his agent wished.[53] This was confirmed on 15 August, when a spokesperson for the Kazakhstan sponsors of Astana said that they intended to sponsor the Astana team on the UCI ProTour through 2013 and that they intended to enforce the last year of Contador's contract with Astana in 2010.[54]

[edit] 2010 season

A man in yellow clothes. In the background people are watching.
Contador wearing the yellow jersey during the 17th stage of the 2010 Tour de France.

On 21 February, Contador won his first race of the season, the Volta ao Algarve, by winning its queen stage and finishing second in the final time trial.[55][56] Due to new UCI regulations concerning the nose cone of time trial bikes, Contador did not use his Shiv time trial bike, and instead used the standard red Specialized time trial bike.[57] On 14 March, Contador won his second Paris–Nice, finishing ahead of other pre-race favorites like Alejandro Valverde and Luis León Sánchez. His main attack came in the mountaintop finish to Mende, where he crossed the finish line alone and successfully secured the yellow jersey.[58] Contador also competed in and concluded the Criterium International with a second place in the final time trial, only 2 seconds behind stage winner David Millar, while Pierrick Fedrigo successfully defended the maillot jaune against rivals such as Cadel Evans and Samuel Sánchez.

On 19 July, in stage 15 of the Tour de France, when race leader Andy Schleck's chain fell off, Contador did not stop, but attacked, and thereby gained enough time over Schleck to take the yellow jersey from him. Schleck said he considered Contador's actions to be unsporting,[59] and Contador met with a mixed reception from fans as he received the yellow jersey on the podium at the end of the stage.[60] Jered Gruber, writing for Velo Nation, argued that Contador was right to attack, considering Schleck did not wait for Contador when he was delayed behind a pile-up caused by the crash of Schleck's brother, Fränk, on the cobblestones in stage 3 where he lost 1' 13" on Andy Schleck.[61] Hours after the conclusion of the stage, Contador voiced an apology for his behavior on his Youtube channel.[62] In the stage 19 time trial, Contador beat Schleck's time by 31 seconds, the exact amount of time he had in deficit to Schleck prior to stage 15. On 25 July 2010, Contador won the Tour de France for the third time with an advantage of 39 seconds over Andy Schleck.[63] Contador became the seventh rider to win a Tour de France without winning a stage.

Contador has signed a two-year contract with Team Saxo Bank (Team Saxo Bank-SunGard in the 2011 season) to ride under team manager Bjarne Riis, who revealed that he would like Contador to try winning all three Grand Tours in one season, a feat never before accomplished. Contador's agent and brother Fran later countered the statement by saying it was "nothing but a dream". Within two weeks, three of Contador's Spanish teammates signed to make the same transfer: Jesús Hernández, Daniel Navarro and Benjamín Noval.[64]

[edit] Doping allegations

[edit] Operation Puerto

After final rosters had been presented for the 2006 Tour de France, Contador and five other members of the Astana-Würth team were barred from competing due to alleged connections with the Operación Puerto doping case. Contador and four other members of his team at the time, Astana-Würth, were eventually cleared of all charges on 26 July 2006 by the Spanish courts and later two out of the five (including Contador) were cleared by the UCI.[14] Each received a written document signed by Manuel Sánchez Martín, secretary for the Spanish court, stating that "there are not any type of charges against them nor have there been adopted any type of legal action against them."[65]

In May 2006, a document from the summary of the investigation (Documento 31) was released. In it, Contador's initials (A.C.) were associated with a hand-written note saying, "Nada o igual a J.J." (Spanish for "Nothing or like J.J."). J.J. were the initials of Jörg Jaksche, who later admitted to being guilty of blood doping prepared by the Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes in 2005.[66][67] Contador was questioned in December 2006 by the magistrate in charge of the Puerto file. The rider declared to Judge Antonio Serrano that he did not know Eufemanio Fuentes personally.[68] According to French daily Le Monde, he refused then to undergo a DNA test that would have judged whether or not he had any link to the blood bags that were found in the investigation.[69]

On 28 July 2007, Le Monde, citing what it claimed was an investigation file to which it had access, stated that Contador's name appeared in several documents found during Operación Puerto.[70] A second reference includes initials of riders’ names that appeared on another training document, although neither of those two references could be linked to doping practices.[71]

On 30 July 2007, German doping expert Werner Franke accused Contador of having taken drugs in the past and being prescribed a doping regimen by Fuentes, who was connected with Operación Puerto.[72][73] He passed his allegations on to the German authorities on 31 July 2007.[74] Contador denied the accusations, saying "I was in the wrong team at the wrong time and somehow my name got among the documents."[74] On 10 August, Contador publicly declared himself to be a clean rider in face of suspicions about his alleged links to the Operación Puerto blood doping ring.[75]

[edit] 2009 Verbier climb

During the 2009 Tour de France, former Tour champion Greg LeMond wrote a column for Le Monde in which he noted that Contador's time up Verbier was the fastest climb in the history of the Tour, which LeMond claimed would require a level of oxygen transport (VO2) "that has never been achieved by any athlete in any sport," and demanded that Contador prove that he was capable of that level of aerobic ability "without falling back to the use of performance enhancing products."[76] At a press conference later that day, Contador refused to answer questions about the article.[77] Subsequently, other experts disagreed with the calculations in LeMond's article, which were done by French physiology professor Antoine Vayer, who was a trainer for the Festina cycling team until the Festina affair in 1998.[78] Two physiologists claimed Vayer's assumptions overstate the needed level of oxygen transport, and that the level Contador needed, while "still quite high," is "not so high that you can definitively state that it can only be achieved via doping."[79][80] A third, who noted that Vayer is the leading expert in this field and "more than anyone, knows how to look at a climb in context", nevertheless also questioned Vayer's assumptions.[81]

[edit] 2010 Tour de France

In September 2010, Contador revealed that a urine sample he had given on 21 July, a rest day in the 2010 Tour de France, had contained traces of clenbuterol. He has stated, due to the number of other tests he passed and that only a tiny amount of the substance was detected in the one he failed, that food contamination was to blame.[82] Renowned anti-doping doctor Don Catlin considered this explanation plausible.[83] Contador stated that he is the victim,[84][85] and he can "hold his head high" and that he thinks he should not be punished.[86] Several people related to the sport said that there is little benefit from using the drug, especially in the amounts that were discovered.[87][88][89]

The UCI issued a statement reporting that the concentration was 50 picograms per millilitre, and that this was 400 times below the minimum standards of detection capability required by WADA, and that further scientific investigation would be required. Contador has been provisionally suspended from competition, although this had no short-term effect as he had already finished his racing programme for the 2010 season.[90][91][92] Contador had been informed of the results over a month earlier, on August 24.[93] Later the amount discovered was clarified as 40 times below the minimum standards, rather than the 400 times originally reported by the UCI. Contador's scientific adviser claimed that he would have needed 180 times the amount detected to gain any benefit in his performance.[94]

There have been reports of traces of plastic residues in Contador's urine sample, that were collected with the blood sample.[95] Some experts suggests that the high concentration of plastic residues indicates that Contador received a blood transfusion during the Tour de France. The validity of the test is disputed.

[edit] Major achievements

Contador in the 2004 Liberty Seguros cycling team


2003 – ONCE-Eroski
2004 – Liberty Seguros
2005 – Liberty Seguros-Würth
2006 – Astana-Würth
2007 – Discovery Channel
2008 – Astana
2009 – Astana
2010 – Astana

[edit] Grand Tours overall classification results timeline

Grand Tour 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Pink jersey Giro  –  –  – 1  –  –
Yellow jersey Tour 31  – 1  – 1 1
red jersey Vuelta  –  –  – 1  –

[edit] References

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  3. ^ a b c "Alberto Contador: Rider Profile". Cycling Weekly. 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  4. ^ Verkuylen, Paul (2007-07-28). "A time trial showdown to rival 1989?". Cyclingnews. Retrieved 2009-05-19. "On a course like this, Evans and Leipheimer would normally out-class a climber like Contador" 
  5. ^ Williams, Phillip (2007-07-25). "Evans could still win Tour de France". Australian Broadcasting Company. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
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[edit] External links

Preceded by
 Paolo Bettini (ITA)
Vélo d'Or
Succeeded by
 Fabian Cancellara (SUI)
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