6 Dec 1982 – First up, the numbers. Alberto Contador won the Tours de France of 2007 and 2009, the Giro of 2008, the Vuelta in 2008 and 2012. He also posted the lowest aggregate times of the 2010 Tour and the 2011 Giro but was subsequently stripped of both. He’s also won Tirreno-Adriatico, ParisNice twice, and the Vuelta al País Vasco and Vuelta a Castilla y León three times each.
He has been, without question, the best stage racer of the post-Armstrong generation. He’s also just about the perfect symbol for the vicissitudes of a sport attempting to haul itself out of a moral cesspit. For instance, he was gifted the 2007 Tour when Michael Rasmussen was ejected but then ASO refused to invite his Astana team the following year.
The danger would be to lose sight of what a magnificent climber he is. Though the era – and his career – is characterised by great scepticism, there is no question that he is a sensational athlete. That he’s not held in nearly the same esteem as countryman Miguel Indurain is indicative of his times but also, it must be said, of his own diffidence. His low position here is informed by that to a degree, but also by the fact that he has never won a meaningful single- day race.