Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador will compete in this year’s cycling showcase despite an upcoming hearing that could result in a doping ban.
Contador spokesman Jacinto Vidarte on Sunday confirmed to The Associated Press reports that the Spaniard will be at the start when the race begins July 2.
“Yes, I will go to the Tour de France,” Contador told Spanish newspaper Deia. “It is the best race, where the best riders are.”
Contador is scheduled to appear before the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Aug. 1, a week after the Tour ends. The International Cycling Union and World Anti-Doping Agency are challenging the Spanish cycling federation’s decision to clear Contador of doping after he tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol in last year’s Tour, accepting his explanation that he consumed the drug in contaminated beef.
The CAS originally had planned to hear the case June 6-8, aiming to issue a verdict by the end of the month. That would have either exonerated Contador or barred him from starting the Tour, but the dates were pushed back to Aug. 1-3 give both sides more time to prepare.
Despite the uncertainty in his career, Contador has won a series of stage races this season, including the three-week Giro d’Italia last month.
He could become the first rider to win the Tour-Giro double since Marco Pantani in 1998.
“From now until the beginning of the race I am going to base everything on rest,” Contador said. “I prefer to even lose my form if it means I arrive rested.”
Contador won the Tour in 2007, 2009 and 2010.