The Tour de France stage over the cobbles from Seraing to Cambrai was a nervous day in the peloton, especially for the general classification riders. A poorly timed mechanical might cost them a lot of time in the GC and ruin their chances for a podium result. For Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), the cobbles stage turned out to be a good day, in which he lost no time on the other favourites despite a rim problem in the final 25km. His good day on the cobbles was in contrast to one day earlier when he lost valuable seconds on the steep Mur de Huy.
“Yesterday I felt comfortable, but on the Mur I didn’t have an answer ready. It’s hard to explain,” Contador said. "On the adoquines, the cobbles, I was back where I’m supposed to be so I’m happy with the result. I’m pleased with how the day unfolded. There weren’t any problems, crashes. There were some small mechanical things but nothing serious."
That small mechanical Contador referred to turned out to be a rim issue. During the stage Contador made a planned bike swap, moving from his normal Specialized bike to his Roubaix-bike shortly after the first pavé sector. Afterwards he was on the verge of making another bike swap, which could cost him a lot of time.
“Bueno, I have to cross my fingers. There was a moment where I thought about stopping to change my rear wheel. I damaged my rim at 25km from the finish. It wasn’t running smooth but I realized that if I stopped I would lose time so I tried to continue. It worked out,” Contador said.
The damaged rim was touching his brakes, slowing the Spaniard down. He was extremely grateful for the support from his teammates, especially classics specialist Peter Sagan.
“I have to thank my teammates," he said. "They were extraordinary. They worked hard. They’ve done everything to help me. Peter delivered an incredible battle. He fought for the victory but sacrificed his chances for me.”
Contador is now eighth overall at 48 seconds from new race leader Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep). He trails second-placed Chris Froome (Team Sky) by 36 seconds. The Spaniard wasn’t worried too much about the gap on Froome. “Hombre, there’s still a long way to go. There’s a thousand things that can happen in so many ways. This Tour is about being consistent, always riding near the front. After the team time trial we reach the Pyrenees. Until then I have to try and recover to tackle those with optimism,” Contador told AS.