Alberto Contador has spoken openly, for the first time, since the crash that ended his Tour de France. The Tinkoff-Saxo rider appeared on Spanish TV station Teledeportes after his teammate Rafal Majka took victory in Risoul.
“It’s not easy, the leg is limiting me a lot,” he told the television station. “The inflammation has been developing and gone down a little, but I’m still in a lot of pain. I need to give it three weeks, because the wound could open again and the delay could be a lot longer. I will have three weeks without my bike, too much.”
Contador abandoned the Tour de France after he came down heavily during stage 10, fracturing his tibia. The accident wasn’t shown on television, which left the exact circumstances up to speculation. It was initially believed that he had come down twice, but the team eventually confirmed that Contador had come down once as he was trying to get food from his pocket. For a rider that so rarely crashes, it was a big dent to his pride.
“It was something that hurt me a lot because I take a lot of care to detail. It was said that I took an unnecessary risk,” he said. “I'm a racer that knows what I'm doing and that is important to me. You have to be aware and try to avoid all risks, try to avoid any problems. For that reason it makes it even more annoying to have had a fall like that when you're careful.”
After coming down, Contador got back on his bike and rode on for a little while. But, with blood pouring down his leg, he decided to visit the race doctor. The visit was a protracted one, as the doctor rummaged around for the appropriate bandage for the stricken rider. After a shoe change and with blood still pouring down his leg, the Spaniard tried to continue. All thoughts of the general classification had gone, but Contador still wanted to make it to Planche des Belles Filles. He ploughed on for around 10 kilometres before he said his apologies to teammate Michael Rogers and quietly climbed off his bike.
“I thought only about finishing the stage with grupetto but I saw that what I had was very serious and could not continue,” explained Contador. “I had excruciating pain and could not continue pushing the pedals. After five seconds without pedalling, I could not move my leg back because I was cooling so quickly. With a lot of sadness I told my teammates that I could not continue.
“The miles in the car to the medic truck was a very bad time because you have many emotional changes: you start thinking about everything you have worked for, everything you've fought for... You see everything is going perfect, the legs respond very well and in a second all goes away. This is cycling. You have to look on the bright side; I had a huge fall and I'm here; if not, you do not find comfort.”
Almost as soon as Contador had sat in the back seat of the Tinkoff-Saxo car, thoughts had turned to the Vuelta a España and if Contador would be able to return to ride it. His Tour de France rival Chris Froome (Sky) was already expected to make his come back there, facing off against Giro d’Italia winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha). For Contador, there are no doubts about whether he will be there or not.
“There's no question whether I could do the Vuelta, it's whether I would be in form. I love to compete, I want to compete and I want to enjoy this race in my country and to be there. I have to see if I can be at a good level, but it is not easy,” said Contador. “I am really motivated for the future, I just hope that the recuperation goes well and if I can’t be there this year then I will prepare just as well or better for next year’s Tour.”