Madrid: Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has confirmed he will ride in next month's showpiece race, ending speculation the Spaniard might skip the event.
"I'll be at the Tour de France," Contador, who is awaiting a decision in August by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over a failed dope test last July, said after riding in a mass event near his home town of Pinto outside Madrid.
"It's a challenge," he said, adding that he had thought long and hard about the decision, which had been made in consultation with his SaxoBank-Sungard team and manager Bjarne Riis.
The Tour de France starts on July 2.
Contador, who won last month's Giro d'Italia, had said he was still pondering his options and hinted he could compete in the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) starting in August instead of the Tour de France.
After testing positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour, he was cleared by the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) but the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed.
Until CAS gives its verdict, Contador is allowed to race.
"There is no doubt that for the team, and for the sponsors, it is fundamental that I am there [at the Tour] and the number of people showing their support is also an important factor," he said.
"It would be easier for me to prepare for the Vuelta, I have more time, it would allow me to recover better," he added.
"But you have to remember that the Tour is the best race, with the best riders, and that is what motivates me.
"Always bearing in mind that it has been almost 15 years since anyone has won the Giro and the Tour in the same year.”
"I will go there to do it and we'll see what happens."
Contador, one of only five men with titles in all three grand tours, will aim for a first Giro/Tour double since Marco Pantani achieved the feat in 1998.
According to UCI regulations, Tour de France organisers can ban a rider from entering the race if they feel he may tarnish the event's image, but Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) said earlier this month they would not try and stop Contador racing.
In 2009, ASO tried to bar former world champion Tom Boonen from entering after the Belgian tested positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition test.
Boonen appealed the decision before CAS, who overruled ASO's decision following an emergency hearing.
If found guilty, Contador, who has denied wrongdoing, faces a possible two-year ban and will be stripped of his 2010 Tour title.
First Published: Sunday, June 12, 2011, 10:49