Thursday, March 6, 2008

Contador Doesn’t Expect Tour Retreat

Tour de France champion Alberto Contador isn’t exactly holding his breath expecting Tour organizers to change their minds on its controversial decision to exclude his Astana team from cycling’s marquee race.

“It seems unlikely, even though I am receiving the support from everyone, from the other riders and from the public,” Contador told the Spanish sports daily MARCA. “Being optimistic, I see 0.5 percent of the possibilities that the Tour would reconsider its posture.”

Last month, Tour organizers shocked the cycling community by excluding the scandal-tinged Astana team from any of the races it organizers.

Racing this week in the Vuelta a Murcia — where he has chances to take the overall title if he can do well in Friday’s decisive climbing time trial — Contador insists he’s moved on.

“I swear that I don’t think about,” he continued. “To the contrary, I think that the best races are the ones where I am, like now at the Vuelta a Murcia. I imagine the closer I get to the dates, it will be harder, but right now, with the exception of Paris-Nice, which I switched for Murcia, I am going to keep the same objectives.”

Contador, 25, has had nearly a month to come to terms with the Tour’s contentious verdict and says he has set his sights on new goals for the 2008 season.

Without a chance to defend his titles at the Tour and Paris-Nice, Contador said he would set his sights on the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing as well as making a run at the Vuelta a España in September. Contador will also race the Vuelta a Castilla y León later this month and the Dauphiné Libéré in June.

Above all, a defiant Contador says he doesn’t regret signing with Astana.

“It doesn’t do any good to keep going over it. I took the decision I had to make and I don’t regret it,” he said. “They were undergoing a new project, I saw that everything was different, including an internal anti-doping system to erase any suspicion. Everything was so serious and so professional that it seemed it was safer to sign with Astana instead of other teams. I cannot regret something I fully considered.”

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