Katusha rider Vladimir Karpets on Sunday seemed to admit that he had forced Alberto Contador off the road on stage 9 of the Tour de France to Saint-Flour – only to later maintain that the clash had been an accident.
Before climbing onto the Katusha team-bus beyond the finish-line in Saint-Flour, Karpets was asked whether he had caused Contador’s crash 84km into the 208km stage. The Russian told ITV reporter Matt Rendell, "Yes, yes. He hit my wrist".
While Karpets gathered his thoughts, his directeur sportif Dimitri Konyshev claimed that he hadn’t seen the accident and had not broached the subject with his rider. "These things happen, though," Konyshev told Cyclingnews. "If you bump into Karpets, you’re going to bounce off!"
A few minutes later, Karpets emerged to tell journalists that Contador’s fall had been "an accident" caused by the Spaniard’s handlebars tangling with Karpets’ saddle. Contador verified that version of events, explaining, "I got my handlebar tangled up with his seat. I got knocked off balance and crashed. It was an accident."
Despite a hard landing on his right hip and knee, Contador finished the stage comfortably in twelfth place and now lies 16th on general classification, four minutes seven seconds down on new yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).