2008 Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre has criticised the way that the rules were applied on stage one of the Tour de France, resulting in defending Tour champion Alberto Contador losing a significant amount of time compared to his main rivals. Writing in his current role during the Tour as a consultant for Spanish national TV, Sastre said he believes that some bodies are taking a stance "against Alberto at all costs". He added that his compatriot is not being shown the respect he deserves.
Currently riding for his Geox-TMC team at the Tour of Austria, Sastre said he had been talking there with two former teammates about the Tour's opening stage, and all agreed that Contador appeared to have been treated unfairly according to their knowledge and experience of the sport's regulations. "We agreed that Alberto Contador has not been sanctioned [for his positive test for clenbuterol], which gives him every freedom and right to compete. Contador has been and continues to be a scapegoat, and it seems that the only way of dethroning him is to take a stand against him and not support him on any decisions," said Sastre.
The experienced Spaniard then went on to explain his thinking. "The crash that occurred on Saturday with 8km remaining didn't favour him at all. In addition, another crash in the lead group with 2km remaining complicated things even more and resulted in everyone [involved in the crashes] arriving at the finish together. However, they didn't take time away from the riders involved in the second crash because they were held up in the final 3km."
Sastre added: "I don't know the Tour's rule but normally when a stage has an uphill finish, riders are given their actual finishing time whether they have crashed or not. If this had been the case, the race would now have a very different look. I've got the feeling that some bodies are going against Alberto at all costs."
Sastre added that Contador did not need his support, but he was nevertheless offering it "in an objective way as a competitive professional cyclist: I believe that Alberto Contador is being shown a great lack of respect."
In 2009, Sastre was critical of the lack of respect he felt he was shown as the defending Tour champion. "I know what that is like and I know that it hurts you a lot," he said. "Having spent a bit of time with Alberto I know that one of his virtues is that he is very strong psychologically. In the last few years he has gone through some very difficult moments and he has overcome them in a way that very few people would have been able to."
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).