I was recently accused of being Un-American by a friend from work. He caught me committing the ultimate act of anti-patriotism. I had practically committed treason. I had openly rooted for Alberto Contador.
He simply could not fathom how I could express any support for Contador when he was the arch-rival of Lance Armstrong. It was akin to supporting Communism in the 80's.
I went on to explain why I thought most of the complaints against Contador were unfair. (I was going to say that the Contador haters were full of crap, but I know that Mark is very sensitive and I didn't want to hurt his feelings. Ha).
The complaints against Contador started in earnest after his first attack on Arcalis. "Johan told him not to attack", people were saying. Well, if I were Alberto, I don't know that I'd be listening to Johan either, because he knew as well as I did who Johan's main pony was. The longer he was behind Lance, the longer he was second fiddle on the team.
"The attack on Arcalis was bad tactically. The climb was too short and windy to make up any real time", was the critique provided by the infinitely wise viewing public. Well, look who's laughing now. I'd say it was one of the best cards he played this tour. Not only did he gain time on everyone else, but he put himself on equal footing with his main rival going forward.
The Contador haters really came out when he "attacked Kloden" on stage 17. "What a horrible teammate!" What, you think he should be concerned with his team? The team that practically threw him under the team bus as soon as Lance happened to be in a split that gained him 41 seconds on the other GC'ers? The team that wouldn't give him a 100% commitment despite the fact that he'd won three of the past 5 grand tours (now 4 of the past 6) and is clearly the best stage racer in the world? Yeah, when given the choice between being a "good teammate" and winning the tour, I think he made quite a few good decisions during the tour.
Alberto's only mistake on stage 17 was that he slowed down after the attack. He hoped that Kloden would have stayed with the Schleks, but when he saw that Kloden got dropped he slowed down in hopes that Kloden would catch back on. He should have done what Lance would have done back in the day - not given a second thought to what happened to his teammate and gone on to win the stage. Contador was the clear team leader at that point and I don't think he should be faulted for wanting to win the stage. No gifts, right?
The other thing that cracks me up about the stage 17 fallout is that, as with almost every tour, people were complaining about the tour being boring because "none of the GC contenders are attacking." Contador finally tries something exciting and he's labeled reckless and a bad teammate. Mark recently wrote a funny article about how how none of the GC contenders were willing to throw down any attacks, as well as how all of the racers were whining throughout the tour. He forgot to include the fans amongst the whiners - they whined when racers didn't attack, and whined even more when someone (Contador) finally did.
And then, of course, there are the "Contadopers." Of course he's a doper. He won the Tour didn't he? Case closed. No more testing is needed. Yeah, maybe "they" will eventually prove that he's a doper. And maybe they won't, and he'll go on to win 5 more tours.
It seems to me that most of the Contador haters hate him because he had the nerve to actually want to win the tour, and then was un-American enough to go and do it.