Tour de France Champion Alberto Contador Appears in Trouble

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07/4/2011| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com
After only two days of racing at the Tour de France, defending champion Alberto Contador appears to be in trouble. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
After only two days of racing at the Tour de France, defending champion Alberto Contador appears to be in trouble. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Tour de France Champion Alberto Contador Appears in Trouble

After only two days of racing at the Tour de France, defending champion Alberto Contador appears to be in trouble.

After only two days of racing at the Tour de France, defending champion Alberto Contador appears to be in trouble.

The three-time Tour winner has already lost a considerable amount of time to rivals and admits his pre-race favorite status may no longer fit him.

"My opponents are still ahead of me in the general classification and I might not even be the biggest favorite to win overall anymore, but there's a long way to Paris and we will do anything to gain time to get back in the overall classification," Contador said.

Aiming for his third straight Tour win, a feat achieved by only five other men, the Spaniard stands 75th in the overall standings -- 1 minute, 42 seconds behind race leader Thor Hushovd.

Hushovd is not a contender to win overall but Contador, who won his first Tour in 2007, now trails his biggest rival Andy Schleck by 1:38. Schleck finished second behind the Spaniard over the past two years.

Contador got off to a nightmarish start to the Tour, losing more than one minute during the first stage when he was slowed down by a pile-up that split the peloton. Contador lost 24 more seconds to Schleck, two-time runner-up Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins in Sunday's short team time trial.

Regarded as the best climber in the world, Contador will have to make up for the time he lost during the last two weeks of the race when the peloton will reach the Pyrenees and the Alps.

Bjarne Riis, Contador's manager at Team Saxo Bank-SunGard, was however satisfied with his riders' performance in the team effort. Most of the Saxo Bank riders are not specialists of the race against the clock and have been selected for their abilities to help their leader in the mountains.

"I'm absolutely content with the guys' performance today," Riis said. "They did a great team time trial and finished in an impressive time. We entered Tour de France with an overall victory as the main objective and we will stick to our plan. Today we demonstrated that we are able to ride as a team and we did an even greater time that I had hoped for."

Contador tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol during last year's race. He denied any wrongdoing but could be stripped of all his titles back to last July if the Court of Arbitration for Sport rules against him next month.

Many fans have questioned his presence on the race and, once again, he was booed by fans amassed alongside the road during the team time trial.

"This situation is not good for anyone," Contador told French TV. "All the experts know this is not a doping case. The past year has been difficult for me. I would like the whole process to be over. It's very hard for me, my family and my friends. The wait for a decision is difficult, but I'm really optimistic."

Schleck, who lost last year's Tour by only 39 seconds after being able to follow Contador's pace in high mountains,

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