Tinkoff-Saxo leader Alberto Contador forced to withdraw from Tour de France after fracturing tibia in crash

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) abandoned the Tour de France today on the road to La Planche des Belles Filles after injuring his knee and fracturing his tibia in a crash mid-stage. The 2007 and 2009 Tour winner became the second big favourite to abandon following Chris Froome (Sky) on Wednesday.

The Spaniard from Madrid crashed with 95 kilometres to race, just after the Petit Ballon descent, in the 161.5-kilometre stage from Mulhouse. The sun was out, but rain had dampened the road and likely helped cause the crash. His left hip was bloody and shorts ripped, but his right knee seemed to cause him more troubles.

“Alberto crashed on a fast and straight part of the descent,” said Tinkoff-Saxo manager Bjarne Riis. 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.”

He re-started after receiving a new bike and new left shoe, chased but abandoned 17.5 kilometres later, at 77.5 kilometres to race.

At that point, in mist and fog, he was around 3-30 minutes behind the favourites group with overall leader Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) and top favourite Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

Contador lost time waiting on the right side of the road a race doctor bandaged his knee. He showed no sign of wanting to abandon, however, as he appeared to ask the doctor to hurry so that he could return to his bike.

He spent some time next to the Tinkoff team car with manager Bjarne Riis while, ahead, team Astana took control of the race to limit the time difference to an escape with overall contender Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). After checking with a medical van and returning to his team-mates, Contador said good-bye to team-mate Michael Rogers and stopped again on the side of the road near Le Breitfirst.

Contador had been working his way back to the top of the classification after losing time in the cobbled stage to Arenberg on Wednesday. On Saturday up La Mauselaine, he attacked with Nibali and moved further up the overall, this morning sitting ninth at 4-08 or 2-34 behind Nibali.

Even with others in the mix, Contador was considered Nibali’s number one rival for the Tour title when the race ends July 27 in Paris. This season, he won the Tirreno-Adriatico and País Vasco stage races, and finished second overall in Algarve, Catalunya and the Critérium du Dauphiné.

At a post-race medical check, it was found that Contador had fractured his tibia, confirmed later by the team.

“Alberto has broken his tibia just below the knee,” said Riis. “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.”

  • poisonjunction

    PPS ‘What another’?
    This story refuses to dot the eye’s’ and cross the ‘tease’!

    Reported ‘elsewhere’, is a Contador interview on Spanish TV [ie in Spanish], giving his account of the crash and subsequent retirement from the race.

    In the report he ‘says’ it was a simple on-bike-feed crash [presumably an unadmitted loss of balance?] but no pothole mentioned etc,
    However a loss of memory appears to be a side effect, as he makes no mention of Roche’s claim to have ridden past, seen the situation and returned to give up his machine so AC could continue …….. !

    A few days ago the ITV4 team also seeking to put an end to conjecture [ in the continuing absence of facts ] also ‘brushed’ over the crash cause after examining the broken frames, concluding on a possibly false surmise[saddle damage] that AC was not a victim of componentry failure!

    There is agreement that the frame tubes of one frameset atop the team car were damaged [ie. pulled apart and wrecked beyond repair] by a clash of vehicles …..!

    Truth is a rare commodity.

    NB. Add Valverde to the ‘gear mechanical’ list

  • poisonjunction

    A sort of PS!

    Velo New’s report’s on the broken frame[s], yes more than one – I lost count of how many – though it is insisted AC wasn’t riding any of them, though one with a broken Down Tube has his race number affixed!

    The broken frames are attributed to careless drivers running over them – consider the ‘usual’ mid-peloton tumble, bikes and bodies strewn everywhere – anyone heard of that happening before, EVER!
    How much are these bikes ££££££?
    Presumably Tinkoff will be looking for recompense from them, or if their own drivers, for replacements!
    There appear to be 4 versions, none straight forward, but V News reporter is satisfied that as the ‘Numbered bike’ was clean, it hadn’t been in use! Apparently forgetting it had been raining, and rain tends to wash mud off!!!
    The fact remains frames were broken, but the public are meant to believe, ‘….. not whilst in competitive use’!
    Perhaps AC will sue them, then we will hear the truth, perhaps!

    In parting, who is Tinkoff team director ….. ?

  • poisonjunction

    The fact that the incident, which put a key rider out of the Tour and into hospital remains an unexplained ‘mystery’ for so long, begs the question that despite denials it was in fact a ‘component’ failure!

    When all’s said and done Team’s are hardly likely to want to advertise they put their top riders on dodgy components.

    Talking of which, both Contador and Nibali reported gear-change problems this week, but an ITV 4 commentator IMMEDIATELY dismissed it, saying it’s just an excuse! WOW!

    The thing is, there are increasing numbers of ‘mechanical’s’ occurring which seem to coincide with the widespread use of electrically powered gear operation, and they may not be as reliable as imagined – again no one discusses it – and It’s worth remembering that water and electricity don’t mix, and there’s been plenty of ‘water’ around this week!

    Out of curiosity, anyone hear of a rider involved in an ‘electrical’??

    I suspect Geraint will get his ‘wrist slapped’ for being outspoken today – ‘brakes work better on alloy rims than carbon fibre’!!

  • John Westwell

    That was an early report – the broken frame was as the result of a bike being dropped from the team car, and wrongly identified as Contador’s.

  • I heard his frame broke – was that the cause or the effect?