Spain’s Alberto Contador of the Saxo Bank team secured his second Giro d’Italia title on Sunday after Scotland’s David Millar of Garmin won the final stage time trial in Milan, then promptly voiced doubts on his plans for the Tour de France.
The 28-year-old, who came into the Giro in the shadow of a doping controversy regarding last year’s Tour de France, dominated the event, spending the bulk of the 94th edition in the leader’s pink jersey.
Although Millar took the plaudits with his swashbuckling showing in the 26km final stage, the headlines belong to Contador should he now seek to use the win as a springboard to a fourth Tour de France triumph, but barely had he stepped off the podium than the Iberian was suggesting things weren’t as simple as that as he refused to confirm whether or not he would even show up.
“The Tour? We shall have to see ... how I am going to recuperate, evaluate the extent to which I have recuperated. I have to speak about it with my sporting director and my team,” Contador said. “Right now, I am tired and I would like to profit from my victory.”
However, winning his second Giro was not entirely music to Contador’s ears after the organizers played a Franco-era version of the Spanish national anthem as the post-race ceremony got under way.
Although the current anthem uses the same music as the old version from the era of the generalissimo, who died in 1975, the words have been changed.
Victory in Paris, the most prestigious of the three Grand Tours, would make Contador the first man to achieve a Giro-Tour double since late Italian racer Marco Pantani in 1998.
With three other Grand Tour successes — including two in the Giro and one in the Vuelta a Espana — Contador has made it a half-dozen successes in the sport’s showpiece stage races.
He has to add a further five to equal the record of legendary Belgian Eddy Merckx, but he is only one behind seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.
For now he can bask in the moment, even though he could yet have his aura punctured if the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) finds against him in his ongoing doping saga.
The case concerning Contador was scheduled to be heard before CAS over three days in Lausanne, Switzerland, from Monday to Wednesday next week in order to have the decision before the start of this year’s Tour de France on July 2, but CAS announced on Thursday that it had postponed the hearing indefinitely to allow further preparation and to help guarantee the participation in person of witnesses and experts.
The World Anti-Doping Agency and world cycling’s governing body are appealing the Spanish Cycling Federation’s decision to acquit Contador over a failed doping case.
Contador, who placed third on the final stage and gave his triumphant pistolero gesture of joy at the end, tested positive for a tiny amount of the banned muscle-building substance clenbuterol during last July’s Tour.
Despite the complex legal wrangle, Contador has not let the issue affect his racing and he appears to be in the form of his life, shrugging off all comers in a particularly tough mountainous edition that saw eight stages finish at altitude.
Home racer Michele Scarponi took second place in the overall standings, more than five minutes behind Contador after a grueling 3265km since the race started in Turin on May 7. Another Italian, Vincenzo Nibali, was third overall.