Contador & Co. ready to pedal through Israel

Team Saxo Bank owned by former Tour winner Bjarne Riis begins its annual team building camp in the western Galilee.

Contador 311 (photo credit: Yossi Sharm)
Contador 311
(photo credit: Yossi Sharm)
Three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador spoke of his excitement of being in Israel and of his hopes for 2012 as Team Saxo Bank owned by former Tour winner Bjarne Riis began its annual team building camp in the western Galilee on Wednesday.
One of the leading teams in the world of cycling decided to start its preparations for 2012 in Israel, aiming to gel its new staff and build a strong team spirit through participation in several bike rides and charity initiatives until it ends its stay on December 11.
The team building camp will be centered around two themes, charity work that benefits children and globalizing and promoting cycling.
This work will be carried out in cooperation with Israeli philanthropist Raya Strauss and the Shimon Peres Center for Peace.
The 28-year-old Contador, who won the Tour in 2007, 2009 and 2010, is the undoubted star of the team and is looking forward to a fruitful stay in Israel.
“I’m very proud to be in Israel and I’m looking forward to seeing the country and learning more about a new culture,” he said in Ma’alot on Wednesday.
A special ride to help promote the western Galilee will take place on Saturday, with Team Saxo Bank to also help launch a cycling school in Acre before taking part in a ride through Jerusalem’s Old City next Tuesday.
“My main goal for the coming year is certainly the Tour de France,” said Contador, who faces a nervous wait until January before he discovers the outcome of his Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing held last week to decide whether he will receive a racing ban for testing positive for traces of clenbuterol en route to winning the 2010 Tour de France.
“It will be tough for me to take part in the Giro d’Italia, but maybe I will be able to participate in the Vuelta a España,” added Contador, who is also looking forward to racing in the London Olympics.
“I think we have put together a very different and very interesting program in cooperation with Raya Strauss and The Shimon Peres Center for Peace,” team owner Riis said.
“We believe this is a great way of building our team and giving everyone onboard a lifetime experience.
At the same time we hope to showcase that cycling offers a lot of qualities, when it comes to helping others.”