Tinkoff-Saxo lost valuable time on stage 17 of Tour de France to Pra Loup after a crash down the penultimate climb Col d’Allos cost team leader Alberto Contador two bike changes and 2’14” in the GC, while a malfunctioning radio prevented Rafal Majka from aiding his captain. “Right now the most important thing is to recover”, says Contador, who sits 5th in the GC. Simon Geschke took the stage win from the break.
A grand team strategy, where the squad positioned three outposts, was cut short after a crash stopped Alberto Contador in his tracks. Upon crossing the finish line atop Pra Loup with skin scrapes on his right side, Contador explains:
“My wheel slipped and I fell. We tried to fix my bike but it wasn’t working and I took Peter’s bike. I tried to descend as well as I could but at the bottom of the climb I had to change back to one of my own bikes to minimize the losses. Cycling is like this, sometimes you do well sometimes you don’t. But right now the most important thing is to recover”, says Alberto Contador.
Early on the stage, Tinkoff-Saxo had deployed Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan in the breakaway, while Michael Rogers went on the attack later on the stage all in an effort to support team leader Contador in the crucial final part of the stage. Team Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh explains the situation around the crash:
“Alberto hit a hole and suffered a crash at high speed. It’s very unfortunate, as we tried hard and succeeded in setting up a promising strategy. We wanted at least one guy in the break and ultimately we had Majka, Sagan and Rogers, who were all ready to support Alberto. What happened happened and we will see how Alberto is, when he wakes up tomorrow. It normally has an impact on the body, when you crash at high speed”, tells Steven de Jongh.
The bad luck continued after Contador’s crash, as a malfunctioning radio meant that Rafal Majka did not know that his team leader had crashed behind him.
“The crash was unfortunate and moreover it was unfortunate that Rafal’s radio didn’t work, either due to bad reception or the water he had poured on himself. Tristan Hoffman had stopped to assist Alberto with a new bike, so Rafal was up the road without knowing that Alberto crashed. He continued at a slow pace up the climb to Pra Loup and he was obviously very frustrated afterwards that he hadn’t been able to assist”, adds de Jongh.
Michael Rogers, who had been waiting for Alberto Contador on the summit of d’Allos, explains the stage and subsequent crash.
“We made a move and sent two guys out in the break and then I made a move, a bit far out. The idea was to have a group of guys waiting for Alberto on the top of the penultimate climb. It worked out perfectly, we had Peter, Alberto and then myself in that select group with Rafal further ahead. Unfortunately, Alberto slipped in one of the corners. There were a lot of bumps and his front wheel slipped and before we knew it he was on the ground. In the end, we were there and able to send him off on his way again. It was a very nervous moment and indeed a shame, I think Alberto was motivated today”, comments Michael Rogers.
Peter Sagan increased his lead in the points classification to 104 points, whereupon he met up with Rogers and then a rapidly approaching Contador, who had scaled the Col d’Allos in the select group of favorites.
“I’m not sure what exactly happened in Alberto’s crash. I was waiting for him on the Col d’Allos and I wanted to help him but Nibali attacked from the start of the descent and everybody was stressed. But just after, Alberto crashed a couple of kilometers down the descent and I had to change bikes with him and he did the entire descent on my bike before he changed again at the bottom of the climb. But it was not a very good day today. It was very obviously hard today to seek the breakaway and we’ll see what tomorrow brings”, finishes Peter Sagan.