Fri, Mar 25, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Contador victorious in stage three to take Catalunya lead

Reuters, VALLNORD-PAL, ANDORRA

Alberto Contador took the lead in the Tour of Catalunya after winning the third stage on Wednesday and pushing aside thoughts of the impending deadline for a UCI appeal against the lifting of his doping ban.

Five kilometers from the snow-lined Pyrenean summit finish in Vallnord-Pal ski station, the Spaniard launched a lone attack to finish ahead of second-placed Italian Michele Scarponi and third-placed American Levi Leipheimer who were 23 seconds back. After riding past fans waving a gigantic poster reading “Alberto, you’re not alone, the fans are still with you,” Contador claimed his fourth victory of the season.

The win came before yesterday’s deadline for cycling’s governing body, the UCI, to appeal last month’s decision by his federation to clear him of any doping offense after he tested positive for a small amount of banned anabolic agent clenbuterol.

“Of course I’m aware of what’s going on, but I’m just concentrating on getting on with racing,” the triple Tour de France winner told reporters. “It’s not the best situation for me, but I have a lot of confidence in the people who support me and I’m handling it as best as I can.”

When asked if Contador had wanted to prove a point, his Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis disagreed.

“Alberto is a winner, that’s the way he is, and we’re not thinking about the other stuff. We’re just doing our job,” he said. “He hadn’t come here with a lot of racing in his legs, but he felt good the first two days and in the end you always have to try.”

“It was a really mountainous stage, so even if the last uphill climb was only 8km long and not so hard, after what had come before, he could make quite a big difference in a short space of time,” he said.

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