December 1, 2012

Will he or won't he be racing in July? Will or won't the UCI allow Argos Shimano in instead of SaxoBank, that is the bigger question. Photo: Bettini

 Spanish champion cyclist Alberto Contador said Thursday he planned not to extend his exhausting career "too much" longer and insisted he needed lots of notice if he is to race in the next Tour de France. Contador played down earlier comments that suggested he may not take part in the 2013 Tour de France if his team Saxo Bank is not given ample notice of whether it is accepted in the race.
  "I am not thinking of extending my sporting career too much," said Contador, who has three years left on his current contract with Saxo Bank, during a promotional appearance. I give practically everything for cycling and it takes a lot of time in my life. I spend more than 200 days a year away from home. It's really hard and wears you out a lot."

   Contador, two-time champion of the Tour de France, won his second Tour of Spain crown in September, a month after returning from a two-year doping ban. He lost his third Tour de France title and his 2011 Giro title after being banned for testing positive for the banned substance clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour.

   Contador insisted Thursday he had not been trying to put pressure on Tour organisers with his comments last week, saying he needed to have sufficient notice to prepare.

   "Not at all. Everyone knows how it is when you're preparing for a Grand Tour, especially the Tour de France. You have to be thinking about that race from the very start of the season."

   If he does not make the next Tour, Contador said he would aim to compete in the Spanish Vuelta or the Italian Giro. Saxo Bank are waiting to find out if they are to be included in the International Cycling Union's (UCI) WorldTour division for 2013 after their omission from its provisional list of 15 teams released in October.

   The Danish team failed to make the initial cut, which took into account each team's top 12 riders under contract for the 2013 season. They were unable to count Contador's points due to his doping suspension.

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