Return of the King: Contador wins a Vuelta battle that goes down to the wire
For Alberto Contador , anything less than victory at the 2012 Vuelta a España would have been unacceptable. Contador’s road back from his controversial clenbuterol ban was intensely personal, just as it was incredibly vital to Spanish cycling. As the Spanish economy teetered on collapse, the Vuelta needed Contador just as much as he needed the win.
The “Pistolero del Pinto” remains Spain’s top cyclist, despite sitting out much of 2012 due to his backdated two-year racing ban.
Spanish fans and media could not care less. They love Contador because he attacks — and more often than not, he wins. Despite having less than a week of racing in his legs, Contador picked up right where he left off, attacking straight out of the gate in his first grand tour since having his 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro d’Italia victories stripped away. Publicly, Contador said anger and revenge didn’t fuel him. Yeah, right.
“Alberto wants to win the Vuelta more than anything,” said Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank teammate Benjamín Noval. “That’s all he’s been training for.” But something strange was happening as a climb-heavy Vuelta unfolded across a spectacular course in northern Spain. At Arrate in the Basque Country, then Andorra, and again at Cuitu Negru in Asturias, Contador’s once-lethal attacks lacked their knockout punch. Rather than leaving his rivals choking on his fumes, his rivals seemed to have his number. More than two weeks into the Vuelta, […]