Alberto Contador said on Thursday that he enjoyed getting on his bike to get away from the external pressures of the Tour, and that seemed understandable. In the early evening he was whistled by the crowd during the team presentation at the Puy du Fou theme park and at lunchtime he was asked about the theme that will hang in the air until early August: should he actually be at the 2011 Tour and what are the implications of his presence?
Asked how he would cope with the next three weeks, knowing that anything he does in this race may be overturned in early August by the Court of Arbitration for Sport when it rules on his positive test for clenbuterol from the 2010 Tour, Contador said: "It is an insignificant thing. It would be ridiculous for me to lose the Tour [at the CAS] and it won't happen because I am full of confidence in my case."
Having Contador in the race with the ruling in abeyance is a situation that has drawn adverse comment from every area of the sport, most blaming the rulemakers rather than Contador. The body that makes the rules, the International Cycling Union, says that it is a matter of due process, although it waited two months before putting that in motion. Unprecedentedly, the UCI has called for Contador to be treated with tolerance, which was echoed on Thursday by his manager Bjarne Riis.