Tour de France Stage 16 reaction - Froome slams Contador over risky riding

Shades of 2003 as GC rivals almost come to grief on descent to Gap; Movistar reflect on a good day for them

by Simon_MacMichael   July 16, 2013  

TDF 2013 jerseys

Rui Costa of Movistar scored a fine solo win on Stage 16 of the Tour de France in Gap today, attacking from the break on the day’s last climb and keeping away to win by 42 seconds from his closest pursuers.

The day’s big talking point, however, relates to an incident that took place after the Portuguese rider had already won the stage as behind him, Saxo-Tinkoff’s Alberto Contador forced the pace on the descent in a select GC group and crashed 7.5 kilometres from the finish, race leader Chris Froome – who hit out at the Spaniard’s risk-taking afterwards – nearly coming down behind him.

Here’s our round-up of the reaction.

Speaking afterwards Froome criticised Contador for what he viewed as unnecessary risk-taking from the Spaniard which could have resulted in more serious consequences for the Team Sky rider, who had also appeared to remonstrate with the Spaniard after rejoining the Mollema group for not helping him and Richie Porte chase back on.

Chris Froome of Team Sky, leader of the 100th edition of the Tour de France.

I think he [Contador] was actually taking a few too many risks there.

He was pushing the limits too far and he took himself down in front of me which also put me as risk. I had to go off the road for a second to try and get around him.

I didn't really come off, I just had to reclip into my bike and get going again. I don't think it was necessary to take those kinds of risks.

Alberto Contador crashed in front of me. He was pushing, I think, a little bit too fast on the descent. Trying to get away from us and he crashed in front of me. That put me in danger.

I went around, off the road, and then I had to correct myself and get back in. I was lucky enough to have my team-mate Richie Porte there to keep me in the front of the race and to keep an eye on things.

It did give me a lot of confidence having my team-mate there and I knew the race wasn't going to ride away from me there and then... we were in quite a small group already.

We've got a really big day tomorrow with the time trial and following that we've got another three really hard days so there's going to be some exciting racing coming up.

Saxo-Tinkoff, unsurprisingly, see things differently, the report on their website noting only that “in a right turn both Froome and Contador were off the bikes as they lost control of their bikes” – which isn’t quite what the television pictures suggest; while Contador’s fall itself wasn’t caught on camera, Froome seemed to be following his line, and what’s more, the race leader, despite unclipping, managed to stay upright.

Saxo-Tinkoff Sports Director Fabrizio Guidi on today’s stage

Going for the overall is not just something we say. We showed today that we keep on putting the pressure on Froome and we're willing to take chances.

We had both Nicolas [Roche] in the big break and he was in a free position to go for the stage while Roman [Kreuziger] and Alberto managed to isolate Froome on the final climb [team mate Richie Porte was still with him – ed] and to keep pressing him on the descent.

Alberto was forced off the bike on the descent with Froome but there was no panic and he is ok for tomorrow. I'm really proud of the way we handle this situation.

We're still fighting as a team and we remain focused on the job.

Tomorrow, the most demanding of the two time trials remains and there's nothing else to say than ‘full gas.’

Contador himself insisted that the incident was part and parcel of racing on a day when he attacked repeatedly on the way up the Col de Manse and again on the way down as he sought to achieve the twin aims of making up time on Froome and also overhauling Belkin's Bauke Mollema to try and move second on GC.

As it turned out, he achieved neither; the Dutchman is still 11 seconds ahead of him, as he was at the start of the day, and Contador remains 4 minutes 25 seconds behind Froome.

Two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador of Saxo-Tinkoff, currently third overall.

These are the circumstances. It's a bike race and the game is on – on the climbs and on the descents.

I just hope the bruises are superficial. Now I put ice on my knee and I think I´ll be fine for tomorrow.

Today we tried and in the end, a Belkin rider was unhooked and another was in the ropes. Now I just hope that the fall does not affect me more than to sleep a little worse. Tomorrow could be an important day.

Everyone was very attentive on the final part of the slope and we were not able to make the difference but the legs are getting better and I hope I can create some fuss in the final part of the Tour.

I don't know if we'll win or not but I hope the people behind the TV-screens will enjoy the race.

For me it isn't a great motivation to do the race calmly behind the wheel in the bunch. Whenever I see a chance, I'll grab it, either at the beginning or at the end of the race.

And we'll see what the final result in Paris will be.

The incident involving Contador and Froome inevitably evoked memories of the infamous episode that took place in this area in the 2003 Tour de France when another Spanish rider in a podium position crashed late on in a stage that finished in Gap and nearly brought down an English-speaker in the yellow jersey.

The consequences that day were much more serious for ONCE-Eroski rider Josepa Beloki, who suffered multiple fractures in that crash on the Côte de la Rochette shortly after the Col de Manse, while race leader Lance Armstrong was forced to take a cross-country route to rejoin the race.

Beloki’s crash was the result of the road surface melting under a baking sun, and today no chances were taken by organisers with the road surface watered ahead of the race’s passage to keep it cool.

While that late drama was going on, Movistar were already celebrating Costa’s stage win and what’s more, with Belkin’s Laurens ten Dam losing contact on that final climb with a small group containing the other men towards the top of the General Classification, the Spanish team’s Nairo Quintana moves fifth overall; what’s more.

Quintana, meanwhile, was happy to have got time over Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Michal Kwiatowski to tighten his grip on the white jersey, while also looking ahead to tomorrow’s individual time trial.

Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, who now leads the best young rider’s classification by 3 minutes 50 seconds.

I have recovered from the effort on the Mont Ventoux, I still have some juice for the Alps.

Today I made an effort to distance my nearest rival for the white jersey Kwiatkowski.

Then, on the descent Alberto Contador set a very fast pace, and I did not see what happened in the fall. In any case, it is not my fault.

Tomorrow, I have come to make good against the clock, not to lose too much time on my rivals. The course is better for me than the Mont-Saint-Michel...

Tweet of the day, meanwhile goes to world champion Philippe Gilbert of BMC Racing, with his observations on Contador prior to the stage start.

We imagine that the latter's positive test for clenbuterol following the second rest day of the 2010 Tour, which resulted in him being banned and stripped of the overall victory, was the furthest thing from Gilbert's mind when he posted on Twitter this morning, but you never know...

Contador have always his best day the day after the second rest day. So remake of 2011? Nice stage for offensive


16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

"Lance Armstrong has showd us that he's an unbelievable bike handler"....or maybe that he's an ubelievable cheat? Wink

posted by 80sMatchbox [25 posts]
16th July 2013 - 20:00


Pedants corner. The Contador clenbuterol incident was in 2010 - he still rode the 2011 tour but came 5th behind Evans before being stripped of that placing, plus his 2010 win, when he was finally found guilty later in 2011.

posted by sponican [83 posts]
16th July 2013 - 20:20


Disappointed with Froome's comments, Contador had every right and reason to be pushing the limits, everyone else waited for both, what is the need to criticise, it just isn't the way things are done.

posted by drfabulous0 [407 posts]
16th July 2013 - 20:57


surprisingly, a temporary lack of composure by Froome in trying to follow Contador's wheel on the descent - could have been far worse an outcome. You can hardly blame your rival for going fast downhill - if Froome had been a few bike lengths behind he would have been able to take some more time on Bertie!

posted by Metjas [347 posts]
16th July 2013 - 21:39


If Contador was taking risks on the descent then Froome was taking sillier risks by riding so close to his back wheel! he's got a 4 minute advantage and could easily have backed off a bit. Contador can take his chance with unforeseen obstacles (opponents, dogs, devils etc), Froome doesn't need to.


posted by zedand3 [19 posts]
16th July 2013 - 21:55


Just watched the highlights and interview with Froome, he didn't 'slam' him, it was critical but not exactly damning. I suspect Froome knows he himself was as much to blame as Contador.

Loved that descent though, the footage from the Motos is great but I'd love to see helmet or bike mounted cams on the riders themselves.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1112 posts]
16th July 2013 - 23:26


Title of the article is a bit misleading... Froome interview says he thinks Contador was reckless, but that was it.

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [525 posts]
16th July 2013 - 23:33


If Froome doesn't think he can keep up then he should back off rather than criticising someone for.. What's the word? Oh yeah... Racing!

posted by Hector Ch [54 posts]
17th July 2013 - 7:22


Froome hasn't got anything on Contador, stupid comment imo.

posted by Karbon Kev [683 posts]
17th July 2013 - 9:00


Go easy on the boy - To be fair, I think Froome probably had a really sore neck from actually having to look up.......


.....aspiring to mediocrity Big Grin

Mr_eL_Bee's picture

posted by Mr_eL_Bee [69 posts]
17th July 2013 - 9:41


Give Froome a break. He was riding at a proper distance behind Contador. Any further back and he's lose the wheel and then time. Contador was sprinting out the corners. Froome gave himself enough space to avoid Contador and I thought he handled it well. It's called 'racing' and was brilliant to watch.

It did make me chuckle when Contador had a go at Quintana for attaching (nothing more than just pushing on I think) after his fall. So it's OK to attack someone when their chain falls off but not if he falls through his own mistake eh? Oh the irony!

I wonder how the fall affects Contador today - bad night's sleep, bruised knee and right arm. Not ideal prep for a TT.


posted by arrieredupeleton [587 posts]
17th July 2013 - 9:53


To be fair he wasn't hugging Bertie's wheel otherwise he would have gone down as well. As it was he has enough time to go round but the road is so narrow he ended up in the grass.

As Bertie said its racing, mind you he has a pop at Quintana but obviously has a short memory for when Schleck slipped his chain and he buggered off Thinking

EDIT: i typed this up and didn't press send so arrieredupeleton's quote beat me to it !

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3237 posts]
17th July 2013 - 10:03


Agree your headline exaggerates. Froome's criticism was mild: ticking off, not slamming.

harman_mogul's picture

posted by harman_mogul [196 posts]
17th July 2013 - 11:17


stumps wrote:
To be fair he wasn't hugging Bertie's wheel otherwise he would have gone down as well. As it was he has enough time to go round but the road is so narrow he ended up in the grass.

As Bertie said its racing, mind you he has a pop at Quintana but obviously has a short memory for when Schleck slipped his chain and he buggered off Thinking

EDIT: i typed this up and didn't press send so arrieredupeleton's quote beat me to it !

Great minds think alike!


posted by arrieredupeleton [587 posts]
17th July 2013 - 11:36


80sMatchbox wrote:
"Lance Armstrong has showd us that he's an unbelievable bike handler"....or maybe that he's an ubelievable cheat? Wink

With respect, Lance didn't cheat his way across that wheat field. This is the only achievement he can genuinly lay claim to. Unless you want to say he was taking an illegal short cut?

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

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1815 posts]
17th July 2013 - 12:45


Interesting article, lesson to be learned, pick your own line and speed when decending, don't get fixated on the guy in front (if there is one Wink )

But please stop promoting Lance Drugstrong, I for one, am not interested in anything to do with that wanker anymore

I enjoyed watching the decending I'm always impressed by the guts, determination and skill to plunge down twisty and steep road like these guys do. Of course it helps when you can be confident your not going to run into a tractor around the next corner, just watch out for a fellow competitor "having a bit of a moment".

Next few days will decide it I think..

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [285 posts]
18th July 2013 - 7:15