Alberto Contador crashed during stage 17 of the Tour de France to Pra Loup today, but his time losses were possibly worsened by Tinkoff-Saxo team-mate Rafal Majka failing to sit up and wait for his captain.
Contador was with race leader Chris Froome (Sky) when he crashed on the Col d’Allos descent heading to the base of the Pra Loup climb. Michael Rogers helped and Peter Sagan gave him his bike, but Majka, winner of the mountains competition in 2014, didn’t ease up from the main escape up ahead.
Tinkoff-Saxo blamed poor communication after the Spaniard lost 2-17 minutes to Froome. He remains fifth overall, but is now 6-40 minutes behind the yellow jersey.
“Rafal was asked to sit and wait, but he said he didn’t hear us, so that means the radio stopped working,” Sports Director Sean Yates told Cycling Weekly.
“If he said he didn’t hear us, then he didn’t. But we told him on numerous occasions, and so did the car that was behind him…”
Yates added that their two-way radios do not malfunction often, but that he had to take Majka’s word “on face value”.
“We couldn’t bridge up to him because we were too far back. We told him on the radio that he had to stop, but apparently the message didn’t come across,” Sports Director Steven De Jongh added.
“First of all, it’s disappointing, and… what more can I say?”
Majka, who finished almost five minutes ahead of Contador, said that no one asked him to stop.
“That’s cycling,” Contador said of the 17th stage.
At the top of the climb, where rain clouds moved in shortly after the finish, he sat in a black team car before speaking.
As journalists moved in with their microphones and recorders, he warned them to be careful. “I have a lot of injuries on my arm and leg,” he said.
Contador added that his front wheel locked up and caused him to crash. “I tried to minimise the loss,” he continued, “but it was a bad day.”
Before taking more questions, Contador closed the door — and we may never get further clarification as to what happened between him and his helper Majka.
Watch Cycling Weekly’s video of Alberto Contador’s Tour de France bike