An attack by Alberto Contador on the Col de la Colle Saint-Michel on stage 17 of the Tour de France had the early signs of his Vuelta a España winning move on the corresponding stage to Fuente Dé in 2012. The Tinkoff-Saxo rider's move was unsuccessful, however, and then a crash on the Col d'Allos descent all but ended his dreams of a Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double.
With four stages left of the 102 edition of the race, Contador sits in fifth place overall, 6:40 down on Chris Froome (Team Sky).
Contador was front and centre in the maillot jaune group over the top of the penultimate climb, and with teammates ahead on the road, he was well positioned to start clawing time back on the likes of Team Sky's Chris Froome and Movistar's Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde.
As riders were strewn across the Col d'Allos descent and final climb to Pra Loup, cameras where in short supply trying to cover the majority of the action. A cut back to a video motorbike with the maillot jaune group saw Contador, Rogers and Peter Sagan standing on the side of the road, changing a front wheel.
Initially it was unclear whether Contador had suffered a mechanical or a crash until footage emerged of him back on the bike with the right side of his kit torn.
"I fell by myself and I broke the front wheel," Contador said of the crash. "We tried to fix it but as Sagan was nearby, I changed bike and he gave me his.
"On the base of the final climb, I changed bikes again to complete the climb with one of mine. Although I tried to minimize losses to the last metre, it was not a good day."
Contador crossed the line 2:17 down on Quintana and Froome, two minutes down on Valverde and 1:15 on Thomas, and now sits fifth overall with a deficit of 6:40 to Froome with four stages to race. The abandonment of third-placed Tejay van Garderen (BMC) earlier in the day saw Contador temporarily lifted to fourth in the standings, but he could not reverse enough time loss to stay ahead of Thomas.
"It's not whether or not this is my Tour," he added in brief post-stage comments. "Sometimes things go well in cycling, but no more. Now the most important thing is to ice [the wounds].
Remarkably, in the 12 Grand Tours that Contador has started, he has only ever stood on the top step of the podium. A fourth place at the 2013 Tour the closest he has come otherwise. The dream of becoming the first Giro-Tour winner since Marco Pantani in 1998 has become a nearly impossible task for the 32-year-old but claiming place on the podium remains a reality with three stages to come in the Alps before Sunday's procession into Paris.
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