Name: Alberto Contador Velasco
Team: Saxo Bank
Role: Team leader and stage racer
2011 World Tour ranking: 3
- Giro d’Italia: 1st overall, won stages 9 & 16 (ITT), 2nd in stages 8, 13, 14 & 19, 3rd in stages 15 & 21 (ITT), 1st in points classification, 2nd in mountains classification
- Tour de France: 5th overall, 2nd in stage 4, 3rd in stages 19 & 20, 6th in mountains classification
- Vuelta a Murcia: 1st overall, won stages 2 & 3 (ITT), 1st in points classification
- Volta a Catalunya: 1st overall, won stage 3
- Vuelta a Castilla y Leon: won stage 4 (ITT)
Why I like him:
Like me he’s an accountant (‘Contador’ is Spanish for ‘accountant’) – unlike me he’s poetry in motion on a bike. I could watch him dancing on the pedals all day long. Not for nothing is he acclaimed the best stage racer of his generation. I love it that he always races to win; it’s never a training ride.
From a humble background, he’s overcome a cerebral vascular disorder, controversy as a Sainz prodigy, Lance Armstrong and falling from the sky on Saxo Bank’s recent team get-together. Very little seems to faze him. He’s mentally very tough and it’s that toughness, as well as meticulous attention to detail, that sets him apart from his peers.
Since first meeting him at Paris-Nice 2006, I’ve watched his meteoric rise with interest. I like the fact he’s loyal to his family, his home town, his long-term girlfriend, whom he recently married, and has kept his feet firmly anchored to the ground.
This month sees him gifted his – and his bike’s – bodyweight in honey by the mayor of a nearby town. Recent recipients of this award include two Nobel prize winners and Spain’s World Cup winning manager, Vicente del Bosque. Let’s hope that’s not his only award in 2012.
Where to see him in 2012:
After his second Saxo Bank training camp, this time on the Canary Islands (5th-15th January), he’ll be starting his 2012 season down in Argentina with the Tour de San Luis (23rd-29th January). Thereafter, he’ll follow a not too dissimilar programme to 2011, albeit with the omission of the Giro d’Italia and the inclusion of the Olympics, where he’s expressed an interest riding the individual time-trial.
However, all this is dependent on the Court of Arbitration of Sport’s decision on whether or not to support the Spanish Cycling Federation’s ruling in respect of the tiny traces of clenbuterol found in Alberto’s urine sample on the second rest day of 2010’s Tour.
Watch out for regular updates tracking Alberto Contador’s 2012 season over the coming months.