July 1st, 2011
06:31 PM ET

Tour champion Contador deserves respect

Contador received a mixed reception at the official 2011 Tour presentation.
Contador received a mixed reception at the official 2011 Tour presentation.

21 stages – 3,430 kilometers - that's the challenge facing the riders at the 2011 Tour de France. No wonder it's also called the Tour of Pain! And this year, as a way of honoring 100 years of climbing the giant Col du Galibier - the participants will go up not once, but twice - with the end of the 18th stage being the highest finish in the Tour's history.

Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck are expected to be the front runners for the overall leader's maillot jeune.

Contador is one of only five riders in history to have won all three of the sport's Grand Tours, and as the world's best climber, will certainly be relishing the third and final week.

But having just won the Giro d'Italia, on a course which was arguably the toughest ever, and with a doping case hanging over him, which he denies, there are questions about the Spaniard's mindset.

I was horrified to hear that he was booed at Thursday's team presentation. As cycling commentator Paul Sherwen told me on ‘World Sport,’ shouldn’t he be presumed innocent? If he is, and I believe he is, what a terrible experience to have? Let’s hope he has a thick-skin!

Andy Schleck will take confidence from the fact that no one has been able to win the Giro and the Tour de France in the same year since the late Marco Pantani did it in 1998.

The Leopard-Trek rider finished just 39 seconds behind winner Contador last year and was the only man able to match the Spaniard in the mountains. A strong team which includes his brother Frank just might give him the boost he needs to win his first Tour at the age of 26.

Team Sky is putting their faith in 31-year-old Bradley Wiggins, who is determined to make up for a disappointing Tour last year. He finished fourth in 2009 and won the prestigious Dauphine Libere warm-up this time around which points to a possible podium finish.

Only the finest athletes can win the Tour de France. It's a grueling three week journey, much more than just a test of endurance, and only the strong will survive.

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Filed under:  Cycling • World Sport Analysis
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Don Heath

    Excellent article. I do believe that you just got me interested in the Tour de France for the first time in a good long while.

    July 2, 2011 at 1:39 am | Reply
  2. Michael Burge

    It's such an amazing race, the competitors have such determination and strength I'll be watching it all.

    July 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  3. Kirsten Henningsen

    The reason for the booing might very well be a response from the very knowledegeable French Tour de France fans to an incident in last year's Tour de France.

    Andy Schleck was in the yellow t-shirt – the overall leader in the race – as the bicyle's chain jumped and he had to stop for maintenance. Alberto Contador attacked Schleck during the defect and consequently won the yellow shirt from Schleck.

    This is unheard of. You do NOT attack the yellow shirt in these situations:

    1) You do not attack through the feed zone
    2) You do not attack when the peloton stops for a comfort break (unless its in the last third of the race)
    3) You do not attack the yellow jersey if he's crashed or has a mechanical.

    July 2, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  4. Sandra

    I think it was disgraceful to boo Contador, I hope he can rise above it and still produce his best race although the bad luck he suffered in today's stage will not have done much to boost his morale or overall chances. So much can and will happen in the next 3 weeks, I look forward to the 2011 story unfolding and some great stage wins. Would love to see Andy Schleck do well, and his new team Leopard Trek. Hope Bradley Wiggins has a good tour also to back up his Dauphine success. I also wish Contador luck, hope he proves his critics wrong. So many exciting riders and teams to follow each day, not forgetting the beautiful scenery and towns of France, never a dull moment in the TdF, just wish I was there standing by the roadside....ALLEZ!

    July 3, 2011 at 4:10 am | Reply
  5. Al Velez

    Please. He is a cheater in a sport of cheaters. As you should well know,
    no one in the sport of cycling has ever doped (that is what each of them claim when caught). Alberto....take your jeering just like you took your steroids, hGh, EPO...administered in your buttocks.

    July 3, 2011 at 11:16 am | Reply
  6. Ericall

    Great journalism Candy.

    July 3, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  7. floopmeister

    He's a cheat – go Cadel Evans!

    July 9, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  8. Mikey D

    I guess CNN International has been "soft peddling" the TV car's intrusive and appallingly negligent crash into the Tour de France bicylclists due their own embarrassment this week of being even remotely connection to the so-called "news industry." I wonder how they would treat a broadcaster that stepped in front of a Coby Harris/Lakers fast-break, injuring the players and changing the outcome of the game? Or a Real Madrid shot-on-goal? Why are they even allowed on the course with the competitors?

    July 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Reply

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