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Bad days add up for Contador at the Tour de France

By:
Barry Ryan
Published:
July 21, 2013, 09:42,
Updated:
July 21, 2013, 10:48
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Monday, July 22, 2013
Race:
Tour de France, Stage 20
Alberto Contador suffered on the climb to Annecy-Semnoz

Alberto Contador suffered on the climb to Annecy-Semnoz

  • Alberto Contador suffered on the climb to Annecy-Semnoz
  • Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) sprints to the finish in Chorges for the stage 17 mountain time trial
  • Alberto Contador ran out of steam on the final climb

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Spaniard slips to fourth overall

It had been, Alberto Contador admitted, a bad day, and the Saxo-Tinkoff leader duly dropped from second to fourth overall at Annecy-Semnoz, at the end of a Tour de France that has been made up of far more bad days than good.

Contador began the penultimate stage of the Tour de France 5:11 down on Chris Froome (Team Sky) yet still vowing to carry the fight for the yellow jersey right to the bitter end. However the final climb up to Semnoz dealt the same stark verdict on Contador’s condition as every other summit finish on this Tour, and it soon became apparent that the erstwhile Pistolero was not going to conjure up some of the vim of old.

A long turn on the front by his former domestique Richie Porte, now Froome’s closest aide at Team Sky, provided the first blow to Contador’s chances on the final ascent of the Tour. When Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Froome took it in turns to test one another’s strength with eight kilometres still to climb, Contador was soon distanced.

“It was a bad day but when you’ve given your all, you can’t do any more,” Contador said. “I can only congratulate the riders who were better. The goal in this Tour was to win but it was impossible because there was a rider who was better than everyone else.”

Once more, it was a leaden-legged Contador on the final climb, wholly unrecognisable from the spring-heeled figure who accelerated seemingly as he pleased at the 2009 Tour and 2011 Giro d’Italia.

Up ahead, Quintana and Rodriguez were riding their way onto the podium, while Contador – initially aided by teammate Roman Kreuziger and later joined by Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) – was simply trying to limit his losses.

Contador reached the summit 2:28 down in seventh place on the stage and he fell to four overall, 7:10 behind Froome.

“Obviously it would have been better to be second than fourth, but defending a podium place isn’t the same as defending the yellow jersey,” said Contador, who had noted presciently during his rest day press conference that he saw no difference between finishing 2nd and 10th overall.

Still only 30 years of age, Contador has time to recover from this setback, but it is equally true that he has shown a curious lack of punch since returning last summer from his belated suspension for his positive test for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour.

Contador has already ruled himself out of riding the Vuelta a España and instead appears to be looking already to next year’s Tour for a chance to make amends.

“I’m pretty tired both physically and mentally and the first thing I need to do is recover,” he said.

Riis succinct in his appraisal

Saxo-Tinkoff manager Bjarne Riis was succinct in his appraisal of Contador’s performance on Semnoz, accepting that the road had delivered its verdict and that there was little to be done.

“I think tactically we couldn’t make any difference today. On the last climb it’s the legs that count and obviously you need the legs to be up there with Quintana, Rodriguez and Froome but he couldn’t stay with them and that was it,” he said.

“We hoped for better with Alberto but we can’t be too disappointed with the team because we have two riders in the top five [Kreuziger is fifth overall] and won the teams competition. Of course we didn’t win, but we’ve done other nice things.”
 

GreaseMonster More than 1 year ago
Sadly not the performance that was expected of him this Tour and as a result it was a less exciting race than it looked to be three weeks ago. Hopefully next year it will be a different story.
really? More than 1 year ago
I'm really not sure what to make of it. Was it the bad luck, was it being off clenbuterol or poor preparation, I thought he would put up more of a fight. I have just re-watched the 2011 Tour and at least he and Andy went off on big attacks to make up the time.
optica More than 1 year ago
He was pretty impressive at last year's Vuelta with strength enough to rally against the constant onslaughts from Rodriguez so I think it was more a case of poor preparation or just having a bad year which can happen to anyone. He gave it his best and has been magnanimous in defeat.....I hope he can find the old spark for next year.
ailsab More than 1 year ago
I too go back and view the 2011 tour. What an exciting race. Contador, Schlecks 1 & 2 and Cadel. I didn't enjoy last years race nor this years with the shadow of doubt over an all too amazing froome I couldn't even watch the last couple of days.
SiAp1984 More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that his comments on the outcome of the race are classy. No excuses, no blaming of others, he just recognizes the strength of his adversaries. As for the reasons for his performance, one might only speculate. One of the clinic reasons might be that he is no more protected by the UCI (remember they tried to cover his positive in 2010) and when racing outside Spain he has to ne more careful. Furthermore, I guess that he always has been more of a great responder than a great talent (given that he transformed from a good one-week-racer to a great GT racer immediately when joining Bruneel et al), so the negative effects of reducing the juice would be massive, too. However, leaving the clinic stuff aside, he might just be over the top. He has raced on an incredibly high level over the years, racing intense and long seasons with tons of wins (unlike LA or Ullrich did back in the days) and even if he is still quite young, these efforts are likely to affect him in the long run. As for the fight he put in: He gave his best every day and (eg on Ventoux) apparently went beyond his limits with brutal effect. It might be time for him either to quit cycling- which would do good to the sport - or to focus on races in Spain (where he still could be a protected rider) or to adapt to a new role of a hyperdomestique for some young gun (eg a guy like Uran or even Quintana...). Time will tell.
nileshshk More than 1 year ago
Siap r u blind or what, he won giro 2011 like no one else, he was as dominating as anyone can be, all clean. He was beaten by froomestrong and uk postal. i'm sure he'd b back in 2014 tdf as before.
SiAp1984 More than 1 year ago
Clean? Dream on :-D BTW, weak competition. (Scarponi next, that says all). That race of his is by far overrated. ACs last great Tour was 2009 (2007 he was given a win that wasn’t even his, according to his own standards). Thats some time ago. In 2010 Schleck was stronger on the climbs (and than the deserved winner).
Pericles Moreira More than 1 year ago
Weak Competition the Giro??? Are you into cycling at all?? Specially the 2011 route was insanely difficult that the organizers decided to tone it down for 2012 & 2013. To say that the Giro 2011 was a weak competition what to say then from the Tour 2012??!! I agree that in 2010 AC did a bad season and that Andy is also worthy winner ( we all remember the famous chaingate…) . The point is that AC in 2010 was not in top shape and then he bounced back in 2011 to win the Giro in style. This year AC was a step or two below the AC of the Vuelta 2012. Let’s look at Purito for example he was flying last season and this year he has been not in top form, until the final week of the tour where he rediscovered his legs, and guess what?! Froome couldn’t keep up with him in the two Alpine stages and AC did beat him last September (and then we had the best Purito ever). Riders form varies a lot from season to season, look at Brad last year flying and this year’s Giro bid was a total failure. The only guy that was in top shape year after year in June was Lance and we all know what he was “on”….
kdogg64 More than 1 year ago
Stronger on the climbs??? Schleck couldn't drop Alberto on the Tourmalet, which was probably the hardest climb that year. You need to go back and watch the film.
azureskies More than 1 year ago
Actually, considering the teams Contador has ridden for, and his adverserial relationship with Lance in 2009, no doubt, Contador was a protected rider. I am sure Greg LeMond would agree, seeing as Greg was calling out Contador for cheating at the tour in 2009.
Ilan Vardi More than 1 year ago
He already had the same "curious lack of punch" in the 2011 Tour de France where he finished 5th, before his suspension.
Janjapan More than 1 year ago
And he had the Giro in his legs.
Ilan Vardi More than 1 year ago
If his 2011 Giro win had been taken away before his 2011 Tour de France, would that have taken the Giro tiredness away too?
Pericles Moreira More than 1 year ago
Listen Cadel Evans did the Giro this year too, and look where he ended in the GC. Of course AC was tired in 2011 from the Giro. Plus if you follow cycling you would known that he dominated the race from start to finish.
5891jonathan More than 1 year ago
I don't agree that "domination" is the proper description of Contador's performance, but he and Saxo raced very hard. This Tour would have been much, much less exciting without Alberto Contador. Great performance.
João Sousa More than 1 year ago
it seems to me that if it wasn't for an Extra-terrestrial Froome, Contador would've one this tour... he dropped to 4th only after being the only one that actually tried to gain time on Froome... unfortunately whatever Sky has done, made them impossible to beat...
SiAp1984 More than 1 year ago
Stop knitting the legend. The only ones to challenge Froome were Quintana and, in the last week, Rodriguez. AC was happy to follow wheels for a while and to attack (and also take himself out) on the descends. If it wasn’t for Froome, he would have lost against Quintana et al.
Moose McKnuckles More than 1 year ago
Do you watch any cycling at all? The only one to stay with Froome and Porte on Ventoux, at least for a brief moment, was Contador. Quintana and Rodriguez were off the back. At least watch the race before you start yapping. Contador made the race more exciting, though he clearly does not have the same "je ne sais quoi" he used to have. :)
del1962 More than 1 year ago
"Do you watch cycling at all?" Moose, I had to laugh when I read this when you made some major mistakes with your summary of the Ventoux Stage, when was Quintana of the back when Contador was with Porte and Froome, if you are going to criticise others it might help to have your facts correct.
Raul de Anda More than 1 year ago
Froom and Sky riders will be busted before long, Sky has the budget of all the teams put together, what does money buy, anything you want!
Wheelsucker11 More than 1 year ago
Don't be so sure. Michael Rogers admitted that Sky is much more advanced in scientific coaching compared to Saxo-Tinkoff. This is also backed up by Great Britains performances on the track. I'm Australian and I hate to say it, but the British are training and managing their riders far better than anyone else in professional cycling. Listening to Michael Rogers, it seems this is why Team Sky has such an advantage over everyone else.
kdogg64 More than 1 year ago
While they may have some better training techniques (I'm skeptible they found something new), they also have the budget to buy the best riders in the peleton. You can't turn a mule into a horse, the talent has to be there to mold.
Moose McKnuckles More than 1 year ago
Unless, you're Froome, who showed no major talent before transforming in the fall of 2011.
Higgenbotham P. Dimpledays More than 1 year ago
There were clearly 6 riders in this tour at level far above the post suspension Contador. Froome, Porte, Quintana, Rodriguez, Valverde, and Kreuziger. Mollema if he had not gotten sick would likely have been better. That makes Contador the 8th best GC rider at this years TDF. If Nibali and Uran ride the TDF at best Contador is 10th. Add in Van Den Broeck along with some young maturing riders and its hard to see Contador as a top 10 contender in the future. One area Contador made up time was using his brain and riding intelligently. This has always been his weakness in the past. But the last few years he has seemed to mature a great deal. He no longer seems as angry or has the need to attack others in the press then quickly deny he said what he said before saying something even stupider the next day. He seems a lot calmer and no longer the hothead he had been for so many years. Kudos to him for remaking himself and his image. Kudos also to Rogers and Kreuziger. Absent Kreuziger, Contador would have lost a lot more time. Sadly I just see things getting harder for Contador. This may be his last year in the top 10. Soon he may just need to accept the fact he is a Vuelta and Giro rider and not a legitimate Tour contender.
G3K762mm More than 1 year ago
I am kind of surprised at the support that AC gets, while Froome is "presumed guilty". AC is really a two-time loser in the doping stakes. He was caught with the "tainted meat" story/ postive clenbuterol and there is ample evidence that links him to Operacion Puerto, where Spanish judges do their best to avoid releasing information on their own people. AC refused a DNA test in the Puerto case that would have put any and all suspicion of guilt to bed. That he tested positive a second time in the clenbuterol case says enough about him. Thumbs down me all you like, I am a grown man and can look at evidence objectively. I've had many of my "favorite" riders disappoint me in the past. It is what it is. He is a known doper, so either lump them ALL together or don't accuse anyone.
kdogg64 More than 1 year ago
Then you should consider the evidence that most of the winners over the past thirty years had three things in common. They were near the top in both the climbing and TT disciplines, and were doping. Froome hasn't tested positive, so he's not a cheat in my book, but he exihibits all the traits of previous doping winners, some of whom still haven't admitted to the true. I would love nothing more than to have all of the blood bags tested from Dr. Fuentes, as there are lots of cheats running around out there who haven't paid any price for their misdeeds. You should probably hate Frank Schleck as well because he was caught paying Fuentes for "services" and got popped in last years TDF. By your standards, his racing career should be over.
ailsab More than 1 year ago
they just haven't caught him yet. the smarts are in developing the wonder drugs, they are very clever and have all the drugs to screen as well so we will find out in a few years time. Disappointing tho for the sport. just wish they would race clean
really? More than 1 year ago
To be honest, I think they're all "preparing". My comment was around the fact that you would have thought AC put up a better fight. Not sure about Cadel (and I'm definitely not an Aussie) but as my wife said when we watched the 2011 tour, he's such a diva...