Contador marks latest win for Spain
MADRID -- Alberto Contador returned home Monday and presented a replica of his yellow Tour de France jersey to the prime minister of Spain, who is fast becoming an old hand at these sorts of things.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero seems to be spending his summer greeting triumphant homegrown athletes.
"Spanish sport is on a spectacular streak," he said.
Contador, who has won the Tour de France three of the last four years, was received by hundreds of fans -- mostly from his native Pinto -- at Madrid's Barajas airport before meeting Zapatero.
"It's wonderful to contribute to this moment in Spanish sport, which is in such healthy shape and is the envy of so many other countries," Contador said Monday.
After his meeting with Zapatero at the Moncloa government palace, Contador was to head to Pinto, about 12 miles south of the capital, where another tribute was in store.
Spain's World Cup victory this month came two years after the country began its resurgence by capturing the European Championship. The title in South Africa came a week after Rafael Nadal clinched his second Wimbledon crown. A few months earlier, Nadal won the French Open for the fifth time.
"A Spanish July," wrote El Mundo newspaper as Contador and Formula One driver Fernando Alonso's victory at the German Grand Prix on Sunday "closed the greatest month ever in Spanish sport."
While Alonso is chasing his third F1 title in six seasons, Jorge Lorenzo won the U.S. Grand Prix in Laguna Seca to lead the Moto GP standings.
It does not end there. Spain's national basketball team -- already the European champion and Olympic silver medalist -- was preparing to defend its world championship title in Turkey in September. And Nadal also helped Spain to its third Davis Cup victory in five years in 2009.
Contador's victory heralded the arrival of a new cycling superstar. At 27, the Astana rider is well positioned to challenge Lance Armstrong's record of seven Tour titles -- not to mention Spanish great Miguel Indurain's mark of five. Contador joined Greg LeMond, Louison Bobet and Philippe Thys as a three-time Tour champion.
"I know I've taken a very important step in the history books, that my name is now alongside legendary cyclists," he said.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press