Much to the dismay of Tour de France organisers, a cloud of doping suspicion will hang over their race, and in particular over triple champion Alberto Contador, when the 2011 edition begins on Saturday, Eurosport informs. The 28-year-old Contador will start the race from Passage du Gois in the Vendee region still waiting for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to rule on an appeal concerning a failed dope test in last year’s race.
Contador, whom Armstrong described as “the most talented guy to ever throw a leg over a bike”, used his outstanding climbing abilities to destroy the field in Italy and could become the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to achieve a Giro/Tour double.
This year’s route will favour the climbers and the Tour is likely to be decided during a tough third week in the Alps, where the race went for the first time 100 years ago. The Col du Galibier will be climbed twice, with one stage finishing at l’Alpe d’Huez and featuring the famous 21 hairpin bends to the ski resort.
Twenty-three mountain passes are included in the Tour and it looks like only Andy Schleck could be capable of beating Contador.