Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Contador Goes Down Swinging

I've never been much of an Alberto Contador fan. It's not that I "like" or "dislike" Contador; it's simply that I have a hard time relating to a fully-grown man who weighs about 125 lbs. I can't imagine what racing a bike feels like to a guy who'd get slaughtered in an arm-wrestling match by a jockey. A FEMALE jockey. I relate much better to racers like Thor Hushovd, who is 6' tall, weighs 185 lbs, and STILL wins mountain stages of the Tour de France, which is absolutely phenomenal. For those of you who have never raced bicycles, a guy Hushovd's size winning a mountain stage of Le Tour is the cycling equivalent, in inverse, of a 12-year-old girl playing power forward in an NBA game and dominating. It's impossible in theory, but he did it. Twice in the 2011 Tour, alone.

Last year Contador won Le Tour 2010 but subsequently flunked a blood test. His blood sample was found to have traces of Clenbuterol, not itself a performance-enhancing drug, but rather a masking agent. Contador claimed he injested the drug from tainted beef brought to the team dinner from Spain. This is cycling's version of the "dog ate my homework" defense. His defense was accepted by the Spanish Federation, but that verdict is currently under appeal by the UCI and WADA. Contador may still lose his 2010 Tour title on appeal.

I really don't know what to make of cycling's drug cases. On one hand, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...you know the rest. On the other hand, there is so much corruption and incompetence in the governing bodies of most of the sports I'm involved with (cycling is worse than most), to me neither side has much credibility. As a result, I simply assume those who have not been convicted by due process are clean, and those who have, are dirty. Period. So Contador, to me, is not guilty until proven otherwise.

Notice I did not write innocent until proven otherwise.

Anyway, last week Contador was climbing some ungodly mountain in Le Tour (I think it was Col du Telegraphe or Alpe D'Huez, I forget the exact spot), in the midst of a massively gutsy uphill solo attack, and a maniac wearing surgical garb and carrying a fake transfusion bag ran up beside him and gestured like he was giving Contador a transfusion. Contador soloed on. But then the guy reached out and grabbed Contador's arm, and Contador clocked him right in the face.

I've never tried to punch anybody while riding a bike up a steep mountain road, but I've tried to do other things from that position (put on a jacket, take off a jacket, throw a water bottle at a menacing dog) and - trust me on this - doing almost anything other than controlling the bike is extremely difficult. Contador didn't flatten the guy, but I think he got his message across. And he didn't crash. Didn't miss a beat.

I could get to like this fellow Contador.

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