Equipment failures at heart of Contador's decision to leave Astana

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

by Simon_MacMichael   July 29, 2010  

Alberto Contador, Tour de France 2010, Paris (Photosport Intl)

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.

 

14 user comments

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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.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1300 posts]
29th July 2010 - 12:09

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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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posted by simonmb [360 posts]
29th July 2010 - 12:19

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is it just me, or do these sound like 'handy excuses' rather than 'reasons' ?

posted by VecchioJo [721 posts]
29th July 2010 - 13:03

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Agree with Vecchiojo - sounds like bullshit to me...

posted by fennesz [71 posts]
29th July 2010 - 13:36

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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.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1300 posts]
29th July 2010 - 13:39

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Can you imagine if RadioShack's radios failed lol.

Sorry I'll get my coat!

posted by Super Domestique [1500 posts]
29th July 2010 - 15:03

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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!

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

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posted by Fish_n_Chips [325 posts]
29th July 2010 - 17:04

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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. Wink

Did Nightrider 2013 for Parkinson's UK, doing it again this year just for the fun of it and to raise more money.

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posted by jova54 [523 posts]
29th July 2010 - 20:36

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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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posted by Simon E [1772 posts]
29th July 2010 - 21:53

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Armstrong would never alow it.

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

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posted by tree23 [1 posts]
30th July 2010 - 1:01

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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.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1300 posts]
30th July 2010 - 8:59

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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.

posted by kitkat [181 posts]
30th July 2010 - 13:02

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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.

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [372 posts]
30th July 2010 - 15:23

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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.

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posted by TheHatter [808 posts]
31st July 2010 - 16:15

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