So Alberto Contador is human after all - that's my take from the wash-up of the Paris-Nice.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM




The world's best cyclist has been questioned at the way he lost the first stage race of the European season.

Contador doesn't have to be told the year is long, with his real test yet to come on the roads of France.

His entire year will revolve around standing on the podium at the Champs Elysees in Paris - nothing else matters.

He played the ultimate diplomat on completing the Paris-Nice and settling for fourth place.

He
offered no favours to race organisers when being quoted, "This is only
the Paris-Nice - it's nice to win and wear the yellow jersey, but it's
the yellow of the Tour de France that I want."

Sure Contador
blew up and miscalculated on the climbs that mattered most but can a
man who's captured the Tour, Giro and Vuelta in the last two years be
discredited for one bad day?

I should think not.

Have
we forgotten how Contador was, reportedly, laying on a beach on the
Spanish Mediterranean coast last May when he received a call from
Astana boss Johann Bruyneel.

The orders were to pack his bags and head for the start of the Giro in Sicily?

With
very little preparation time and planning, he smacked all-comers
(including the drug-tainted cheats Emanuele Sella and Riccardo Ricco),
and carried the Maglia Rosa onto the streets of Milan for a famous
victory.

He's a rider who knows how to rise to the occasion in the really big events.

Does Tiger Woods get a roasting if he fails to win a golf tournament prior to a Grand Slam event on the US tour?

What
about Rafael Nadal - if he fails to reach the final of an ATP Masters
Series before the French Open or Wimbledon titles, do we put a line
through his name as an unlikely contender of the big tennis
tournaments?

Contador has outlined his plans for the year and they do not include defending his Giro crown.

Instead,
he'll allow teammate Lance Armstrong to make his debut in Italy's Grand
Tour and capture the headlines in its centenary year.

It's
only natural that expectations are high whenever and wherever Contador
hits the bitumen, but to discredit the world's best cyclist after a
poor (by his standards) showing, is to be naive.