Alberto Contador's chances at a Giro/Tour double look in jeopardy after a disastrous day on stage 10 of the Tour de France

It always seemed grand, but now it appears over the top. Alberto Contador’s wish to go from winning the Giro d’Italia to doing the same at the Tour de France, becoming only the eighth cyclist to win the double, took a major hit on stage 10’s La Pierre-Saint-Martin summit finish.

Team Sky’s Richie Porte and Chris Froome drove away from team Tinkoff-Saxo’s Spanish captain up the climb. At the finish line 6.8km later, with a clear view of the valley below and the mountains separating France from Spain above, Froome had piled 2-51 minutes on Contador.

Contador, though the best grand tour rider of his generation with seven wins, might have secretly given up any hope of the double on Tuesday afternoon.

“Froome is superior, and he made a strong punch today,” Contador said when he rolled to a stop high, at 1,610 metres, in the Pyrenean mountains.

“I am going to go day by day, and see what we can do. To see if we can fight for the GC, or make other goals.”

>>> Five talking points from stage 10 of the Tour de France

Contador looked at his best when he drilled time into his rivals with Froome on stage two on the Netherlands’s wind-blown west coast. On the others stages, however, he faded at times.

Froome questioned if it was such a good idea for Contador to race the Giro d’Italia if he was serious about the Tour win.

“I’m wondering how much the Giro took out of him,” Froome said.

“I really don’t think it is the best preparation for the Tour. I am not going to say it is impossible, but the best way to get ready for the Tour de France, in my opinion, wouldn’t include doing the Giro d’Italia. We will see how he goes, but I do have a small suspicion that the Giro has taken an edge off of him.”

Italian Marco Pantani last won the Giro/Tour double in 1998. That year, however, he competed against a reduced field in the Tour after the Festina Affair broke.

Others like Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx also succeeded, but at the time, cycling was not as focused on peaks and races as it is in 2015.

Alberto Contador on stage sixteen of the 2015 Tour of Italy

Alberto Contador on stage sixteen of the 2015 Tour of Italy

Contador dominated the Giro and took it easy in June with only the Route du Sud, but has found fresher rivals in the Tour de France. Favourites from Froome to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) built their seasons specifically for the Tour.

Contador, who already has two wins in the Tour, explained before the race that he wanted more from his 2015 season.

“The most important thing in life, not just cycling, is motivation,” he said. “Motivation is the main argument for the double. I know that if I win another Tour without the double, that’s not something that can change my career.”

Even if doubts of doing the double grew further today, Contador could bounce back given his unmatched experience in Grand Tours. In 2012 Vuelta a España, he caught Joaquím Rodríguez off guard in a relatively calm moment to take control for the eventual overall win.

“We saw back in 2013 Tour that Contador really taking it on in the crosswinds, taking it on in the descents, really pushing the limits on the descents,” Froome said. “I think we can expect all of the above in the days ahead.”

“Today, I couldn’t breathe well. I tried to do the best I could, and to limit my losses,” Contador added.

“That’s bike racing, some days good, some days bad. Chris Froome is better than all of us right now, at a higher level. I will fight all the way to the end. Maybe he has a bad day. The fatigue will start to count.”

Check out Alberto Contador’s Tour de France bike

  • sharpyt1

    Depends which tours Froome targets. With the loss of Porte, Geraint could be their best bet. Also note Brailsford’s interview on the BBC touting him as a GC contender next year.

  • chris

    why when he is such a good support man? Maybe a few years . It’s safe to say that Sky will know from his data when is ready to lead a tour (if at all).

  • reece46

    Not sure I’d say the team are strong, Sky’s reservations about Kenaugh from last year are looking like they might have been well founded. Without G things would definitely be stretched.

  • Tom Wells

    Is there any need? A minute up a climb of that length isn’t that much (compared to the days of Armstrong where 3-4 minutes wasn’t unheard of) and it looks to me more like they just felt better after the rest day. I’m sure their bikes will be tested at some point, as I think the UCI do the rounds of all the teams in a GT.

  • sharpyt1

    Geraint as a GC contender in the Giro or Vuelta next year? I hope so.

  • psi4power

    I guess we went from Fab 5 to Furious 2 and Contador, Nibs and TJ came back to earth. I am really impressed with Sky’s tactics and preparation for the tour, yeah it is less drama filled than the Pantini days were people races by instinct but even with the huge armada effort from MovieStar and Sky the race eventually happened but wish there were more pure climbers to go for the stage wins and put some more pressure on Sky. I know its only one day in the mountains but we will see next 5 days if DS’s can come up with some strategy to challenge Sky and hope the boys morale stays high as its just one day in the Pyrenees

  • The Awakening

    Richie Porte impressed today. He held back and allowed Chris Froome to get that gap, but he clearly had more there, but as team mate, didn’t chase down the gap.

    Geraint Thomas, again, went well as ever.

    Very strong Sky team this year.

  • Timlewis

    The only reason the 7 other riders were able to complete the giro tour double were because there were no doping controls .. They were able to use whatever they wanted to achieve this.. Unfortunately I think Mr tinkoff has more of an interest in this attempt for his own publicity than Alberto contador himself which is a shame…. I think if contador prepared for the tour it would be a different battle.

  • blemcooper

    We’re always hearing about this or that rider having their bike tested for motors. Did the Sky trio’s bikes get tested today?