Although Contador has been back since the 5th August and placed a good 4th on the Eneco Tour, he wasn’t back till stage 3 Faustino V to Eibar in the Vuelta Espana 2012.
Yes that stage blew the race apart with only 3 days in! Clearly Contador seeing Chris Froome as the main threat as he sat on his wheel before launching nearly all of his 6 blistering attacks on the Alto de Arrate. Unable to drop the others and finally conceding third spot and 4 bonus seconds to the Kenyan born Brit.
Ban that was’nt much of a ban
This post isn’t really about how great this year’s Vuelta is shaping up to be but more about a banned dopers return and our attitude towards him.
This post wont go in to the details of his case but needless to say Contador received an 18 month ban which his federation allowed him to backdate, in all putting him out of competitive action for 6 months. So unlike other banned cyclists who would have up to 2 years off the circuit, leaving them rusty and bereft of the best years of their career, Alberto missed hardly anything.
So why isn’t it that no one is complaining about his relatively ‘short’ ban? Why isn’t he vilified by sections of the media who still attack a cyclist who has never tested positive?
It’s what the Tour lacked and the UCI points system sucks out of riders. We all want to shout at the TV with excitement but few riders cause us to do, but those who do have quite an effect. A great example is Marco Panatani a swash buckling thrilling climber with suspensions for doping who may have doped all his career. His exciting climbing style and his desire to take risks to win big endeared him to the public to this day. Couple a rider with Panache and put them up against a forbidding and powerful foe such as Lance Armstrong or earlier still Luis Ocana against Eddy Merckx and the public is riveted.
Although Contador’s attack’s did little to kill off his competitors it certainly stopped people booing him and certainly made many of us embrace him with open arms. So it does make you wonder that if we are happy to forgive a convicted doper due to his exciting riding style then would we be less scathing of a ‘never tested positive‘ cyclist, if he rode with more panache? And is riding with panache a prerequisite for forgiveness?