Tour de France leader Alberto Contador has issued an apology to rival Andy Schleck after seemingly capitalising on the Saxo Bank rider’s chain problems on the Port de Bales (stage 15) which ultimately relieved Schleck of the race lead.
Schleck had launched at attack on Contador in the final 3km of the climb, but unshipped his chain whilst changing gear. As he dismounted to fix the problem, Contador, Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez appeared to accelerate and ride away from Schleck.
The trio then sped down Port de Bales to come across the line 39 seconds ahead of the furious Schleck, and put Contador in the yellow jersey.
The unwritten rule is that rivals should not attack the race leader if they are suffering from a mechanical problem. Contador said immediately afterwards that he hadn’t realised Schleck had suffered a mechanical. The Spaniard has drawn a lot of criticism for the action and has felt moved to broadcast an apology.
“Today I made the podium, and I am happy about that,” said Contador in the video shot from his hotel room. “But there’s a problem with the circumstances. Just when I attacked, Andy had a mechanical problem on the last climb.”
“The race was on and maybe I made a mistake. I’m sorry.”
“In these moments all you think about is to go as fast as you can,” continued Contador. “I’m disappointed in the sense that fair play is very important, as I did in the stage to Spa when both Andy and Frank got unhitched from the group, I didn’t hesitate to stop the peloton until they could re-join.”
“I received much criticism from people for doing that after the cobblestons stage when after teh fall the pack was cut and Andy took advantage of me.”
“I don’t like things like what happened today, I’m not like that, and I hope the relationship that I have with Andy can go back to being as good as it was before this happened.”