The Astana Cycling Team Fires Back
Alberto Contador lived up to expectations by winning the 2008 Giro d’Italia. The 25-year-old Team Astana rider is the second Spanish rider in history to win this three-week stage race. Contador finished 11th in the 21st stage, an individual time trial from Cesano Maderno to Milano over 28.5 K, 39 seconds behind Italian TT champion Marco Pinotti (Team High Road). Contador’s main rival Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval), on the eve of the last day second in the general classification, 4 seconds behind Contador, lost 1 minute and 53 seconds.
always hoped that the team would eventually be allowed to race in the Giro, but to be told just one week prior was definitely not on their wish list. Johan Bruyneel: “ We have faced many challenges over the years, but none as difficult as putting together a squad with just seven days notice. This, coupled with a very difficult first week's racing, tested our team in ways we could never have imagined. To say I am proud of our staff and riders is truly an understatement; they accomplished the impossible and yet did it in the most professional manner I can think of.”
2008 seems to already be a perfect year, even without the Tour de France. “No I don’t think Tour the France will change their mind,” said Alberto Contador. “Now I hope to finally take my holiday. Anyway I hope that the Tour directors have watched this race. And this pink is maybe nicier than yellow, as I didn’t expect this. On the other hand, the Tour is definitely a harder race.”
“It is often said that actions speak louder than words,” said Johan Bruyneel. “Today I hope that the ASO takes firm notice of the actions of the Astana Professional Cycling Team, not just in our victory at the 2008 Giro d'Italia, but also how professionally we have conducted ourselves throughout the entire season. This is the proof. We have taken a team of riders and staff and under the most arduous of situations won one of the most important bike races in the world. I cannot be prouder of any of them, nor can I understand why we cannot be allowed to defend our title in the Tour de France. Alberto Contador is our champion, and he is supported by an amazing group of people. This is a victory for the ages, and we will continue to build upon it – that you can be sure of.”
The Team Manager witnessed the evolution of a great champion. “Alberto Contador literally went from opening a beer on the beach while on vacation a few weeks ago in his hometown to popping the cork off a bottle of champagne in Milan atop the final podium at the Giro d'Italia. This is unprecedented. He didn't preview the stages, he didn't ride the mountain passes, and neither he nor his team were close to top form when the race began. And so they raced with their heads as much as their legs, knowing when they needed to lead and when they needed to conserve their energy. We knew it would be close, but yet we also knew we had the reigning Tour de France champion. As we saw with Lance Armstrong, great riders can bring out the best in their teammates. Alberto Contador did just that in the 2008 Giro d'Italia, and we look forward to the days ahead.”
“I remember when I first called Alberto while on holiday. After telling him we needed him to ride the Giro, he said honestly, ‘OK, we'll wait and see’. And that's just how