Despite the double dislocation of his left shoulder in a crash late on stage 6, Giro d'Italia leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) said at the start of stage seven on Friday morning in Grossetto that he will try to battle on.
"I've worked very hard to be in good shape in the Giro and for the Tour and I don't want it all to go to waste," Contador, who took the leader's jersey on stage 5, told reporters. “We’ll just have to see I get through the day."
At Grossetto in southern Tuscany, the crowds surrounding the Giro d'Italia leader's team vehicles were no larger than the usual melee of fans and reporters on any stage of the Italian Grand Tour.
However, the sea of cameras and microphones along the flimsy tape barrier facing Contador as he stepped off the Tinkoff-Saxo bus was far denser than usual. Quashing early rumours that he would not be talking to the press, Contador opted briefly to answer questions before he rode off to the start.
Looking calm, the Spaniard said he had had a very good night's sleep, although he is trying to keep his left arm and shoulder as stable as possible. "Raising my arm above head height would be really risking that it would come out, so my teammates have been helping me out as best they can."
After a week of solid sunshine, the weather appears to be taking a turn for the worse, with rain now threatening and that is definitely a worry for Contador. "If it rains it'll be difficult to try and put on my rain jacket," the Tinkoff-Saxo rider reflected. "I hope it holds off." Although he did not mention it - and probably did not want to think about it - crashes on partly wet roads could be more likely, too.
Instead, the Contador show goes on, albeit with a big question mark over how he will handle the pain that always comes after one - or more - dislocations. "My morale is good," he insisted. "I'm going to continue for now."
Accompanied by his press officer and a member of race organiser RCS staff, after his brief impromptu press conference, Contador rode directly to the start and sign-on with members of the public shouting encouragement and attempting to keep up on foot as he pedalled away.
Today's stage, his first challenge as an injured Giro d'Italia, is largely flat. However, at 264 kilometres it is the longest of the entire race and has a slightly uphill finish sprint. Then, assuming all goes well, it will be back into the mountains on stages eight and nine, with the race's second summit finish on Saturday.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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