Controversial three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, unbeaten in Spain since the start of the season, continues his warm-up for the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday in the Tour of Castilla y Leon. The Tour of Castilla y Leon, which he won last year, may be just a formality for the 28-year-old Saxo Bank rider. The Spaniard is in sparkling form ahead of the Tour of Italy on May 7-29, his main objective in the early part of the season, having already won the Tour of Murcia and the Tour of Catalonia this year, after a fourth place in the Tour of Portugal.
That followed the end of his suspension for alleged doping offences. Contador tested positive for a tiny amount of the banned muscle-building substance clenbuterol during last July's Tour de France, which he went on to win. But he was cleared to compete when the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) in February rescinded an initial decision to hand down a one-year competition ban. It accepted the rider's claim that he had unknowingly consumed drug-contaminated meat and was therefore not negligent.
However, the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency announced separately last month they plan to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne over the acquittal. Contador is free to continue racing until and unless the CAS rules against him.
His chief rivals in the Tour of Castilla y Leon, which concludes Sunday, are expected to be his countrymen Igor Anton of Euskaltel and Carlos Sastre of Geox. The most challenging stage comes on Friday from Benavente to Laguna de los Peces, which includes two first category climbs, ahead of Saturday's individual time-trial.