Contador fell during the opening stage of the Tour and although the impact was hard he escaped with only cuts and bruises to his right side, with his shoulder worst affected.
“He didn’t have a great night but that’s obvious if you’ve had skin taken off you like that,” Tinkoff directeur sportif Steven de Jongh told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 2.
“It’s unfortunate but if you’ve seen the crash then I think we can be happy in one sense because it could have been a lot worse. He didn’t break anything.”
The Tinkoff team will look to nurse their race leader through Sunday’s stage to Cherbourg but with rain forecast and the tough uphill finale – including the Côte de La Glacerie – de Jongh is expecting the team to come under pressure.
“I’m counting on Alberto’s rivals putting him under pressure. That’s what I would do if I was a rival. Today we just hope for the best and hope that he can be there for the final. It would be very unfortunate if he lost time. The way he’s feeling, he won’t attack and we’ll see how he goes. It was a hard impact but there’s no chance of Alberto stopping. Last year in the Giro when he dislocated his shoulder I was really worried but I’m confident he can be okay now.”
De Jongh was keen to stress that the team was attaching no blame for Contador’s fall. After Saturday’s frantic finish, the team initially blamed BMC Racing’s Brent Bookwalter, but television footage clearly showed that Contador fell in front of the American and not the other way around.
“I have to apologise for mentioning Bookwalter yesterday. That was the first information I was given, that he crashed into Alberto but that wasn’t the case. He braked, his wheel slipped,” De Jongh said.
Sagan is an animal
Another dilemma for the Tinkoff team is how to utilise Peter Sagan. He is a favourite for Sunday’s stage and could pull on the yellow jersey if he wins. However putting pressure on the front of the peloton in order to help Sagan could affect Contador.
“We’ll use the same tactics today as if Alberto was fit. The team needs to be at the front and that’s crucial,” de Jongh said.
The team’s deployment of Sagan over the course of the Tour could also play a crucial role in determining Contador’s overall chances.
“Peter, as we saw last year is an animal. You can put him in so many scenarios and he can deliver. He can help out in a lot of ways. He can help in crosswinds, in the mountains, and there are a million thing that he can do. He’s one of the keys to Alberto trying to win the Tour.”