Dubai: Double Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has made reclaiming the yellow jersey his ultimate aim in 2013 after a doping ban ruled him out of last year’s race and saw him stripped of his third title.
Spanish cyclist Contador, 30, tested positive for banned steroid clenbuterol in 2010, a substance he still maintains found its way into his bloodstream after eating contaminated meat.
It cost him his 2011 Tour de France win, having earlier won in 2007 and 2009, and ruled him out of much of last season.
Contador now believes he’s on course for a dramatic return, having finished second to England’s Chris Froome in last week’s Tour of Oman.
Passing back through Dubai on a promotional tour with his team, Saxo-Tinkoff, yesterday, he refused to answer any questions directly relating to the ban, but insisted he was ready to pick up from where he left off.
“The most important objective of the year is the Tour de France, 100 per cent,” said Contador. “It is the most important race in the world and I think we have the perfect team together to win the tour.
“I’ve made a good plan for this and we have a lot of important races leading up to it. I always fight for victory in every race, but you can’t win them all. The most important thing is to be in the best condition leading up to the big tours.”
Of his runners-up spot in Oman, where he lost to 27-year-old Froome of Team Sky, Contador said: “It was a great start to the season and I’m very happy with my condition. These months training have been perfect and I feel very positive about the year ahead.
“They always say I am one of the favourites heading into the Tour de France, but maybe there are five or six other riders that will fight for victory. If I was to say only one name [capable of victory] I think that would be Chris Froome.
“He’s very strong on climbs and time trials but of course there are other very strong riders, such as; Andy Schleck, Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans – there are many guys with the opportunity to win.”
Bjarne Riis, team manager of Saxo-Tinkoff said of Contador’s return: “I think everybody who knows cycling knows what he can do. He’s one of the best and he’s a guy that can win. He’s proved that before. We look forward to a great season with him.
“With Alberto in the team it’s easy. He wins races, he wants wins and that motivates the other riders. He deserves a strong team that can help him win big races and we think that this year we have a team capable of competing at the highest levels.”
Contador and Team Saxo-Tinkoff were in Dubai as guests of sponsors Saxo Bank to show their support for the local cycling community, which is buoyed by the opening of two new cycling tracks in Nad Al Sheba and Al Qudra. Just last month Contador was on hand to officially unveil plans for a Tour of Dubai, scheduled for 2014.