Updated: Alberto Contador out of Tour de France - after riding 18km with broken leg

Spaniard crashes with around 100km left of today's stage, tries to carry on but forced to give up

by Simon_MacMichael   July 14, 2014  

Contador abandons

UPDATED: Alberto Contador has abandoned the Tour de France this afternoon - after riding 18 kilometres with what turns out to be a broken tibia in a desperate attempt to remain in the race. The Spaniard pulled out of today's Stage 10 with around 80 kilometres left to ride after a heavy crash earlier on as he descended in the wet.

In a statement issued this evening, his manager at Tinkoff-Saxo, Bjarne Riis, said: “Alberto crashed on a fast and straight part of the descent. He was reaching for his pocket and the bike was swept away under him probably because of a bump or hole in the road.

"Alberto was in the shape of his life and the entire team had our eyes fixed on the podium in Paris and the work we would have to do to get there.”

Some riders who saw Contador crash gave their own version of what had happened. According to a tweet from Danish journalist Mikkel Condé, Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang said: “Contador took a big risk. On a descent with bad asphalt, he passed us, went 10-15 km/h faster. 1k later he fell on his ass." 

Meanwhile, the Dutch journalist and commentator José Been said on Twitter that Lotto-Belisol’s Jurgen Van den Broeck had told Sporza: "It was Contador's own fault. He stepped on the pedals to overtake and rode in a hole."

Following the crash, which happened with around 100 kilometres still to ride of the 161.5 kilometre stage from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles, the Tinkoff-Saxo rider waited as the race doctor strapped his right knee.

He also had tears to the left hip of his bibshorts as well as the rear of his jersey, and seemed to be in pain from a wrist injury.

Ironically, given the vast media presence at the Tour nobody was pointing a camera in Contador's direction when he crashed. Social media rushed to fill the void, rumours swept the Twitterverse that the frame of Contador's Speicalized had broken in the impact. Certainly a picture from AFP, tweeted by Telegraph Sport journalist John MacLeary shows a bike with the Spanish rider's frame number clearly snapped both on the downtube and where the top tube meets the seatpost.

 

 

However, some claimed that the picture is of Contador's spare bike, said to have fallen from his team car's roof rack and then have been run over by another vehicle, Dutch website Nusport.NL was later reported to be quoting Belkin's team manager Meerijn Zeeman as saying that a Tinkokff Saxo bike did fall land on a Belkin team car after bikes became entangled following a close pass from a Tinkoff - Saxo car, he doesn't appear to mention any damage though.

To further add to the fog of rumour and counter-rumour, Danish television channel TV2 says Contador was actually riding a bike lent to him by Nicolas Roche following an earlier crash - and pictures of the bike beside the rider at the roadside as the doctor treated him suggest that one was undamaged.

The picture cleared only somewhat during the evening when Specialized released a statement  wishing Contador a speedy recovery and pulling together all the strands of information available to them about the crash. 

"All of us at Specialized are devastated to see Alberto Contador withdraw from the Tour. He is a true champion with the heart of a warrior and he had a great chance at Yellow this year. We have spoken to Alberto's brother as well as his personal mechanic (Faustino Muñoz) and the mechanic who was at the scene (Rune Kristensen), and contrary to some early, unconfirmed reports, frame failure was not involved in Alberto's incident today. Nicolas Roche was involved in a separate incident today and while his bike was laying on the road it was run over by a car causing it to break, potentially giving rise to the initial inaccurate reporting. Live race reporting is difficult and sometimes mistakes are made. We are continuing to research the events of today and will share any further details as we learn more."

However, the bike pictured in John MacLeary's tweet clearly bore Contador race number - 31, not Roche's and is certainly not Roche's first choice bike he's on the new McLaren Tarmac SL which has a distinctive paint job (see pic below) - and at $15,000 a pop isnt' the sort of bike you'd want to make a habit of running over

Yet another version of events was supplied to Cyclingtips.com - who were told that the bike pictured was indeed Contador's but was his spare (and yes, his mechanic was enough of a perfectionist to have a race number on both of Contador's bike). The spare had been inadvertently run over by the team car after the mechanic got it down for Contador, at which point point presumably Contador was given Roche's bike instead. 

Following the crash Contador, clearly in pain, eventually remounted with a 5 minute deficit on the group he had been riding with including his chief rival for the overall victory, Astana's Vincenzo Nibali, who went on to win today's stage at La Planche des Belles Filles and is back in the race leader's yellow jersey.

“After the crash, Alberto got back on the bike and we tried for about 18 kilometres to keep him in the race," continued Riis. Despite his best efforts and an impressive show of willpower, he had to abandon the race.

The rider was taken to the finish in the team car and his leg was x-rayed, revealing the fracture, as Riis explained: “Alberto has broken his tibia just below the knee. It’s not a complicated fracture but it probably requires surgery. He will stay with us tonight and tomorrow he will travel back to Madrid to undergo further examinations and a surgery if necessary."

His absence from the race means that there are now no former winners left in this year's Tour de France after Andy Schleck and Chris Froome abandoned last week. The Team Sky rider was quick to tweet his commiserations to Contador.

However, Riis made it clear that it's premature to talk about when Contador might return to racing. “We will naturally have to look ahead," he said. "But right now it’s to early to say anything about the possibility of Alberto riding Vuelta a Espana. It depends on his recovery and on how fast he can get back on the bike and start training again”,

76 user comments

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" Alberto Contador has abandoned the Tour de France this afternoon - after riding 18 kilometres with what turns out to be a broken fibia in a desperate attempt to remain in the race. "

Where in the body is this fibia? Is it near the fibula or closer to the tibia?

Really, though?

posted by workhard [389 posts]
14th July 2014 - 20:50

185 Likes

@nick t

Corporate shill?

Its not a conspiracy and I don't work for Specialized and never have

concept stores are not owned by specialized .

I actually work in a Giant brand store if that helps clarify your concerns Wink

posted by hampstead_bandit [220 posts]
14th July 2014 - 20:57

177 Likes

Specialized posted this a little while ago. We've made contact with them and they're getting back to us soon, once they've got to the bottom of what actually happened

"We are concerned about the well-being of Alberto and will be keeping you up to date on information from the incident here. This is DS Bjarne Riis description of the crash, "“Alberto crashed on a fast and straight part of the descent. He was reaching for his pocket and the bike was swept away under him probably because of a bump or hole in the road. Alberto was in the shape of his life and the entire team had our eyes fixed on the podium in Paris and the work we would have to do to get there”. Reports from Tinkoff-Saxo are saying the team car drove over the frame and Alberto was given a new bike but, after riding 18km further with a broken leg he had to abandon. Please check back here for the most up to date information. "

http://www.iamspecialized.com/news/get-well-soon-alberto/

David Arthur's picture

posted by David Arthur [1759 posts]
14th July 2014 - 20:58

182 Likes

Can't believe I'm the first person to point out there's no such bone as the fibia.

posted by Jones The Steam [23 posts]
14th July 2014 - 21:00

171 Likes

hampstead_bandit wrote:
@nick t

Corporate shill?

Its not a conspiracy and I don't work for Specialized and never have

concept stores are not owned by specialized .

I actually work in a Giant brand store if that helps clarify your concerns Wink

I think your Sarco-Matic 5000 needs a bit of fettling there, buddy Wink

posted by Nick T [844 posts]
14th July 2014 - 21:03

178 Likes

Jones The Steam wrote:
Can't believe I'm the first person to point out there's no such bone as the fibia.

Neither can the author of the post 3 up from yours.

posted by Nick T [844 posts]
14th July 2014 - 21:04

186 Likes

@nick t

Written attempts at sarcasm never translate well?

Unfortunately intonation gets lost in the written word...

posted by hampstead_bandit [220 posts]
14th July 2014 - 21:25

180 Likes

Can't believe that ITV4's prize this week is a Specialized bike!

I love my bike's picture

posted by I love my bike [52 posts]
14th July 2014 - 21:26

179 Likes

Just to add more fuel to different fires, why did Riis look so suspicious when removing the gilet from Contador's jersey pocket? He seemed to pull it out dead quickly, then almost hid it behind his back.

Silly

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
14th July 2014 - 21:29

173 Likes

Thinking Tubes not smashed enough to have been run over by car. It would seem we are getting the specialized PR rubbish

Looks like the doctor in the background tending to Contador!

image.jpg

posted by TheDoctor [84 posts]
14th July 2014 - 21:39

177 Likes

farrell wrote:
Just to add more fuel to different fires, why did Riis look so suspicious when removing the gilet from Contador's jersey pocket? He seemed to pull it out dead quickly, then almost hid it behind his back.

Silly

That was weird wasn't it? "Haha, I'm such a cunning pickpocket that he will now restart without a gilet! Serves him right for having hurty knee!"

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3471 posts]
14th July 2014 - 21:52

167 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
farrell wrote:
Just to add more fuel to different fires, why did Riis look so suspicious when removing the gilet from Contador's jersey pocket? He seemed to pull it out dead quickly, then almost hid it behind his back.

Silly

That was weird wasn't it? "Haha, I'm such a cunning pickpocket that he will now restart without a gilet! Serves him right for having hurty knee!"

"Just going to swipe this whilst everyone is distracted and then I'll...Balls! There is a cameraman, erm, hide it behind my back and walk away, just walk away".

Everything was just so odd.

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
14th July 2014 - 22:01

181 Likes

Its a shame to loose the 'Bad Guy' of the tour. No drama on the climbs or Contador taking time back on the TT.

ITV4 confirmed there were two crashes, which explains why he was riding Roche's bike and explains why he was riding fast to catch up before the second BIG wipeout. As for the broken frame. The second big crash we can see the bike is pretty fine even after he slide for 100m, there is no need to doubt the 'car ran over it' story (except for a bit of internet forum fun.)



I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1434 posts]
14th July 2014 - 22:34

176 Likes

Is a conspiracy. I see triangles.

posted by Argos74 [301 posts]
14th July 2014 - 23:24

174 Likes

On the subject of bike failures did anyone notice Izaguirre's forks snap soon after Froome's crash on stage 4?

posted by NeilG83 [260 posts]
15th July 2014 - 1:11

157 Likes

You guys are just mean. Big Grin

Contador is a beast. Riding 18k with a broken leg is amazing. Unless of course...wait...you don't suppose he was riding Cancellara's old motorized Cervelo do you?

And in other sporting news, a soccer player collapsed in agony when his jersey was touched by an opposing player.

"because a goal without a plan is just a wish"

posted by bikeyourbest [23 posts]
15th July 2014 - 4:14

173 Likes

farrell wrote:
antonio wrote:
Ah, if only Holmes and Watson were still around!

Aye, they'd probably have bloody good experience of riding on cobbles too...

Class. Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1093 posts]
15th July 2014 - 6:33

152 Likes

No conspiracy for me. Bike run over by car. You'd get a very definite shearing pattern, but that looks twisted, so compressed and broken.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1200 posts]
15th July 2014 - 8:15

157 Likes
Blackhound's picture

posted by Blackhound [449 posts]
15th July 2014 - 8:21

160 Likes

The velonews link above is now saying:

'UPDATE: However, a fourth version of events has since come to the fore, and it’s the most plausible yet. According to Specialized’s Giampaolo Mondini, one of Contador’s frames was broken while it was still on the roof. Following Contador’s crash, the team car had to rush to his aid and clipped the Belkin car as it passed, destroying the bike.

“What happened next is that the team car tried to get recover position and get up to him, passing all the other team cars in doing so. The road was really narrow and the second bike on the roof ended up touching those on the Belkin team car. It was going pretty fast and the frame broke on top of the roof due to the impact,” Mondini told CyclingTips.

“When the car arrived to Contador, Roche had left his bike to the side [for Contador to use if necessary]. The people inside didn’t initially realize that the bike on the roof had been broken as things were so stressful. Everybody was a little bit confused. Contador got a third bike and got going, but unfortunately couldn’t continue in the race.”

The broken bike had Contador’s number on it, suggesting it was his primary bike. But it was also quite clean, suggesting it had been on the roof, rather than ridden. Most teams don’t put numbers on riders’ second bikes, but Munoz has done so in the past. It is plausible that the broken bike had indeed been on the roof of the team car, rather than under Contador. CyclingTips was able to corroborate the crash story with the driver of the Belkin car. The fourth version of the story, it seems, is finally the correct one.

The timeline from the crash onwards:

Contador hit the ground while trying to eat near the bottom of the descent.

Roche stopped, left Contador his McLaren Tarmac.

Contador got onto his third bike after the crash, an S-Works Tarmac with a normal Tinkoff paint job, and without a race number. His first bike had been crashed, and his second obliterated by an impact with another car. A brief shot on television showed his mechanic picking up his crashed bike, still in one piece.

Contador did not swap bikes onto Roche’s McLaren frame, as initially speculated. Roche finished the stage on his second bike, rather than his McLaren. The story of Roche’s bike getting run over seems to have been born of the confusion surrounding the incident.'

Which sounds the most likely version yet, and explains why the bike looks clean.

posted by Chris James [214 posts]
15th July 2014 - 8:41

158 Likes

If only Tinkoff-Saxo had taken Wiggins they'd have had a plan b!

Hope Contador bounces back for the Vuelta, but everyone seems to think that he's going to be out until the end of the season. What a rider to ride on with a broken leg as well, it looked like he was really struggling the second he got back on though.

posted by nicholassmith [69 posts]
15th July 2014 - 8:47

157 Likes

Quote:
We were riding close to the front of the peloton, doing about 70kph in the wet, on a really long straight bit of road, when Alberto reached into the pocket in the back of his jersey for some food and hit a hole in the road.

Unable to control his bike with one hand, his front wheel went from under him and he went head first, bounced off the road and slid into the grass verge. Riding a few places behind him in the group, I locked up my wheels and threw myself to the side to try and stop. With the speed I was going though, I only came to a halt about 50 metres after him.

I jumped off my bike and ran back up to where he was lying in shock on the grass at the side of the road.

As I helped Alberto up, I noticed his bike was broken and there was a stream of blood coming from a gash just under his right knee. His wound looked pretty bad but as a rider, my natural instinct was to simply hand him my bike and encourage him to keep going.

Pretty conclusive.

posted by redmeat [112 posts]
15th July 2014 - 8:55

156 Likes

Not a massive fan of Contador, but I don't like to see a rider have to abandon, especially one who would have made Nibali work a bit harder.

posted by stevebull-01 [62 posts]
15th July 2014 - 9:02

153 Likes

redmeat wrote:

Quote:
We were riding close to the front of the peloton, doing about 70kph in the wet, on a really long straight bit of road, when Alberto reached into the pocket in the back of his jersey for some food and hit a hole in the road.

Unable to control his bike with one hand, his front wheel went from under him and he went head first, bounced off the road and slid into the grass verge. Riding a few places behind him in the group, I locked up my wheels and threw myself to the side to try and stop. With the speed I was going though, I only came to a halt about 50 metres after him.

I jumped off my bike and ran back up to where he was lying in shock on the grass at the side of the road.

As I helped Alberto up, I noticed his bike was broken and there was a stream of blood coming from a gash just under his right knee. His wound looked pretty bad but as a rider, my natural instinct was to simply hand him my bike and encourage him to keep going.

Pretty conclusive.

I'm not so sure.... Without all the talk of broken frames you would just read "his bike was broken" as standard damage after a crash, not a destroyed frame....

posted by pirnie [198 posts]
15th July 2014 - 9:09

154 Likes

bikeyourbest wrote:
Contador is a beast. Riding 18k with a broken leg is amazing. Unless of course...wait...you don't suppose he was riding Cancellara's old motorized Cervelo do you?

The "alleged" motorised bike was a Specialized... plot thickens Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8503 posts]
15th July 2014 - 9:30

149 Likes

Reading that was quite heart breaking, I wasn't a fan of Contador & initially I was pleased that he had crashed out but after reading Nico's report of the day you really understand the pressures that these guys go through.
I salute Contador for his effort in trying to rejoin the race & I'm sorry that he has left the Tour. watching him pass group after group with Nico & his other team mates whilst riding with a fractured leg is inspiring, Whatever the reason he crashed I'm sure he will be missed.

Noelieboy's picture

posted by Noelieboy [92 posts]
15th July 2014 - 9:54

156 Likes

Nobody so far seems to have commented on the shifty looking character on the "grassy knoll" opposite. No coincidence surely? Wink

Zedand3

posted by zedand3 [19 posts]
15th July 2014 - 11:11

152 Likes

This is starting view like a Hammer Horror as they get bumped off one by one.

As we speak, there's probably the mother of all St Christopher medallions on its way to Nibs from the Vatican!

posted by fustuarium [26 posts]
15th July 2014 - 11:56

156 Likes

I love my bike wrote:
Can't believe that ITV4's prize this week is a Specialized bike!

I literally laughed out loud when I saw that. There weren't any broken Boardman bikes in the first week, were there? Wink

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [956 posts]
15th July 2014 - 11:58

150 Likes

Can't say I've ever noticed riders numbers on spare bikes but it makes perfect sense for a quick changeover.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [292 posts]
15th July 2014 - 21:18

130 Likes