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Radio failed in ITT and in-car TV problems meant Spaniard unaware of Schleck's chain issues...

It has been revealed that a succession of problems with equipment have been one of the chief contributory factors to Alberto Contador’s decision to leave Astana, announced yesterday.

The Spaniard, who on Sunday won his third Tour de France in four years – the last two with the Kazakh team – has also reportedly terminated his discussions with Astana, meaning that there will be no possibility of him racing with them next year, even if they meet his wage demands which are in excess of the €5 million a year is said to have been offered.

The Independent says that according to sources close to Contador, the cyclist’s radio broke just 7km into Saturday’s crucial 52km time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac, which he began with just an eight-second lead over Andy Schleck at the top of the general classification.

The newspaper added that this was not the first time this year that such an issue had arisen during a time trial, and that Contador, who put in a time 39 seconds faster than the Saxo Bank rider to more or less clinch the overall victory, had effectively been cycling blind with no idea of how Schleck, who had set off three minutes earlier, was faring.

Another equipment failure involved the so-called ‘Chaingate’ incident last Monday, when Contador rode off up towards the top of the Port de Balès as Schleck, then in the race leader’s yellow jersey, attempted to reseat his chain after himself attacking. The 39 seconds that Contador gained that day were enough to put him into the overall lead.

Contador, who later apologised to Schleck over the incident, came under fire from elements of the media and cycling fans for breaking the unwritten rule that the maillot jaune should not be attacked following a mechanical problem, and initially claimed that he had been unaware of the Luxembourg rider’s difficulties. Many found that assertion difficult to believe, given the presence of TV monitors in team cars and the use of radios.

However, it has now transpired that Astana had problems with their in-car TV throughout the Tour de France, which meant that after Schleck’s chain slipped the team management were unable to relay to Contador exactly what was happening behind him on the road.

The Independent adds that it is now unclear whether Contador will race again in Astana’s colours. The cyclist has ruled himself out of the Vuelta which starts in late August, and his schedule currently comprises a pair of exhibition races.

Bjarne Riis, who has signed the IT services firm Sungard as headline sponsor, replacing Saxo Bank, for next year, is favourite to obtain Contador's signature, with Andy Schleck and his brother Frank expected to depart to a new, Luxembourg-based team.

 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

14 comments

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 6 years ago
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Bloody hell. That final time trial without any time checks would have been a nightmare.

And I thought that the broken spoke on the cobbled stage was surprising.

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simonmb [353 posts] 6 years ago
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I feel he's had a very lonely year at Astana, and I was always convinced he'd jump after the Tour whether he won it or not. On a side note: I think there's always a good, if controversial, point to be made that without radios we would end up with better racing in the Tour. I know it was tried in 2009 - but the 'experiment' was handled badly by both sides. Wouldn't it be more entertaining to see the riders giving it 'everything' rather than 'just enough'?

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VecchioJo [396 posts] 6 years ago
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is it just me, or do these sound like 'handy excuses' rather than 'reasons' ?

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fennesz [138 posts] 6 years ago
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Agree with Vecchiojo - sounds like bullshit to me...

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 6 years ago
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simonmb wrote:

On a side note: I think there's always a good, if controversial, point to be made that without radios we would end up with better racing in the Tour. I know it was tried in 2009 - but the 'experiment' was handled badly by both sides. Wouldn't it be more entertaining to see the riders giving it 'everything' rather than 'just enough'?

The UCI are supposedly phasing out radios. In 2009 they were banned up to and including U23 level. This year they are supposedly banned at some elite level events, but I can't find anything definitive about it.

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Super Domestique [1605 posts] 6 years ago
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Can you imagine if RadioShack's radios failed lol.

Sorry I'll get my coat!

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Fish_n_Chips [486 posts] 6 years ago
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Does sound like an excuse to cover up the fact he attacked.

Will Andy Schleck really stay in the team if Cheat-ador signs up?

It would be funny if he went to Radio-Shack!

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jova54 [654 posts] 6 years ago
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Fish_n_Chips wrote:

It would be funny if he went to Radio-Shack!

They're probably one of the few teams with enough money to afford him and they could do with a winner now that Armstrong's retired.

Does seem a little fishy about all the comms problems on the two stages where he seemed to be suffering most.

Perhaps they meant the radio control of the motor in his frame.  3

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Simon E [2727 posts] 6 years ago
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Fish_n_Chips wrote:

Will Andy Schleck really stay in the team if Cheat-ador signs up?

The Schleck brothers have repeatedly been linked with a new team based in Luxembourg, though nothing official has been announced. Riis would not be able to hire Contador if Andy was still on board, simply on the basis of cost, apart from the fact that it wouldn't make sense.

Another factor is that Contador is directly linked with Specialized. Apparently the manufacturer only want to directly support one team in 2011 and would like Contador to lead it.

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tree23 [1 post] 6 years ago
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Armstrong would never alow it.

SKY?... there the richest Pro team this year?

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 6 years ago
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tree23 wrote:

SKY?... there the richest Pro team this year?

I think Sky claim that they are four Pro Tour teams with larger budgets than them.

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kitkat [366 posts] 6 years ago
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I agree with VecchioJo, it's just an excuse. i think he wants away from the funny smell coming from Vino and any possible connection that could be drawn.

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skippy [408 posts] 6 years ago
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Last year after tour "Pistolero" wanted out of his contract and was nopt allowed to go, so is it surprising that he is going now even if he can't race until 1st jan2011 ?

Contador will attract the money so there is a chance that a Spanish team will enjoy the Limelight with him as the "Hero" of the nation.

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TheHatter [770 posts] 6 years ago
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I'm no prop but I know you don't need a radio to see the one rider you've been watching the whole tour has just had their chain come off right in front of you.

Also slightly off topic why do riders need radios on the TT's - wouldn't it be much better if they just rode their bikes? And they can't use their usual excuse of needing them for safety when they're the only ones on the road.