Xavier Tondo (Movistar) was at the top of the leader board at the Tour de San Luis with two stages to go but a crash on the way to the stage six finish line cost him 15 minutes and took him out of contention for the overall title. Marco Arriagada (Team Chile) replaced Tondo as the new overall race leader heading into the final stage seven, a circuit race in the city of San Luis on Sunday.
“I know it is disappointing but sometimes the man with the hammer hits you and he hit me today,” Tondo told Cyclingnews. “I’m really disappointed and more because my team did a really good job, but racing is like this sometimes. Congratulations to Marco because he showed everyone that he was really strong in the mountains.”
Tondo entered the event as a likely candidate to win the overall classification along with his teammate Mauricio Soler. He moved into the race lead following his victory in the stage four 19.5 km time trial. He increased that lead to 34 seconds on the mountaintop finish in stage five. The odds of securing the race win were in his favor with one mountainous stage to go, the queen stage six.
With help from Soler, Tondo passed the two decisive climbs with his rivals Jose Serpa (Androni-Giocattoli), Eros Capecchi (Liquigas-Cannondale), Josue Mayano (Team Argentina) and Marco Arriagada (Team Chile). However, he crashed along the predominantly downhill but undulating terrain inside 20 km to the finish line.
“The problem was not the crash, the problem was that Marco attacked at the bottom of the climb and he showed that he was in really good shape,” Tondo said. “We reacted really well with Mauricio Soler and caught him with three kilometres from the top of the climb.”
“Just after the top we rode together and I was feeling like sooner or later I would get dropped,” he said. “I thought that the last part was flat but there were a lot of little hills and on one of them I felt bad, I touched Marco’s rear wheel and I crashed, alone. It was my fault. Either way, if I didn’t crash, I would have been dropped on the next little hill.”
“Racing is like this sometimes,” he added. “I’m disappointed because my teammates worked really well for me this week. Mauricio Soler did some extraordinary work for me on the mountains. I thought during the stage that my legs were good enough to try to finish in a good place, but you never know.”
Following the Tour de San Luis, Tondo will continue his early-season preparations at a training camp in Mallorca. His schedule will include Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and Pays Basque and the Tour de France.
“In theory my major goal this year is the Tour de France,” Tondo said. “It is difficult for me to make a goal like that because I have never raced the Tour before and it is better to go step-by-step. Last year, I won a stage in Paris-Nice and also Volta a Catalunya and placed second overall there. If I can make similar results or a little bit better it will be very good for me and I can think about having a good Tour de France.”