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MADRID (VN) — Alberto Contador is already outlining his 2012 racing schedule despite having a clenbuterol doping case still hanging over him.
The Spanish rider says the Tour de France will be his top goal for next season, but that’s based on the assumption that he will be cleared on clenbuterol charges next month as the slow-moving case finally hits the international Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Contador has kept a low media profile since the conclusion of the 2011 Tour, but answered readers’ questions in an online chat with the Spanish daily El Mundo.
Contador did not directly address his ongoing doping case in a question-and-answer session that included 30 random questions from fans.
“The No. 1 objective (in 2012) will be the Tour,” Contador said. “At the beginning of the season I will begin with Tirreno-Adriatico, Catalunya and Pais Vasco. Later I will race the Dauphiné and Tour. The Vuelta? We’ll wait and see, but it’s a possibility.”
The Saxo Bank-Sungard captain has long maintained his innocence in the controversial clenbuterol doping case dating back to 2010.
After he was cleared by the Spanish cycling federation in February, WADA and the UCI appealed the case to CAS, which has finally scheduled a three-day hearing in early November.
Contador claims traces of clenbuterol entered his system during the 2010 Tour while eating contaminated steaks. Perhaps not surprisingly, Contador says he no longer includes beef in his diet.
“I have not eaten beef again since everything that happened,” he said alluding to his infamous rest-day steak dinner at the Astana team bus in 2010.
Contador did give a few hints of his state of mind as the case nears its conclusion. He could face up to a two-year ban and loss of his 2010 Tour crown if CAS rules against him.
“I appreciate the support that all the fans have given me. And I also believe that there are some media outlets who have not treated me like I have treated them,” Contador said. “No one’s turned their back on me, at least not among the people who are close to me.”
Here’s what Contador had to say on other topics:
On arch-rival Andy Schleck: “He has tremendous quality and of course he can win the Tour. His time-trialing ability limits his options for victory.”
On racing the Vuelta a España again: “I will be back to the Vuelta eventually. It’s my national tour and it gives me a special feeling. The Vuelta this year was spectacular and the fans took note. We don’t have the big climbs like the Giro or Tour, but there’s a lot of work put into the route and they’re more beautiful each time.”
On Lance Armstrong: “I haven’t had contact with him since the end of the 2009 Tour, but I don’t have any problems with him. If I saw him, I would speak with him just like always.”
On his future: “I see myself racing another five or six years, but it depends on how things go each year. Right now I want to give 100 percent during these next few years and then we’ll see what happens.”