If there’s calm in the eye of the brewing storm gathering around Alberto Contador, he can find it in his hometown of Pinto.
As Contador is facing potentially crippling doping allegations, he can count on the loyalty and support of his hometown, a bedroom community one hour south of Madrid that his family has called home since Contador was a young boy.
Contador is the biggest thing that ever came out of Pinto and a stroll down the pedestrian streets of this city of about 40,000 people reveals the depth of support for the beleaguered Tour de France champion.
Stores hang Contador posters in their windows. Residents string banners, T-shirts and yellow jerseys from balconies. One sign reads, escolares con Contador, students with Contador. Another reads: AC gracias campeón.
On October 23, the local mountain bike club held a rally in support of Contador. Hundreds of cyclists joined together to form a cadena humana en apoyo a Contador, a human chain in support of Contador.
Another banner hanging over the portal of Contador’s family home says it all: Alberto, estamos contigo, we are with you.
Neighbors said that the pressure of the looming case is weighing heavily on Contador and his tight-knit family.
“I would bet a lot that that boy hasn’t taken anything,” said Gonzalo Sánchez, who lives in the apartment just above Contador’s parents. “No matter what happens, it’s put a stain on him. When you see him in public, he still smiles and waves and stops for a chat. It’s not right for me to bring it up, but there’s no doubt that he’s hurt by it.”
While Contador seems to have retreated from the public eye after traces of clenbuterol were found in his system during a control at the 2010 Tour, he sticks to his daily routine in Pinto. Neighbors say they see Contador walking around town, visiting his parents and going on training rides.
Contador and his brother, Fran, who acts as his manager, did not want to comment for this story. Jacinto Vidarte, the press officer who works with Contador, also said that Contador’s parents did not want to make public comments until the case is resolved.
To read the whole story, visit here: http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/11/news/pinto-rallies-around-its-favorite-son-alberto-contador_148382
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