Alberto the brave
Professional cyclists are a tough bunch and Alberto Contador embodied the fighting spirit ever-present through the Tour de France.
The two-time winner displayed a champion’s spirit by bravely riding on for an excruciating 18km after crashing and, as an x-ray later revealed, fracturing his right tibia, before finally succumbing, climbing off his bike and into the team car.
The first week of cycling’s greatest race is always a nervous, frantic affair and – save, ironically, for the Grand Départ in the UK – persistent rain in northern France has only amplified the effect for the 2014 edition.
The Tour de France is poorer without Contador; a rider who, while some two minutes and 34 seconds adrift of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) going into stage ten, has the flair, tenacity and talent to light up the race in the mountains and take the race to the Italian national champion having lost time on the cobbles of stage five.
Big loss for the TDF today. Recover well @albertocontador & I hope to see you at the Vuelta.
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) July 14, 2014
The Tour started in Leeds with three former champions – Andy Schleck (2010), Chris Froome (2013) and Alberto Contador (2007, 2009) – and all three have now succumbed to crashes, on stages three, five/six and ten respectively.
Contador was quick to extend an (online) hand to Froome after the defending champion abandoned and Froome returned the favour last night, while raising the prospect of a battle with Contador at the Vuelta a Espana. Whether El Pistolero will recover in time to contest his home Grand Tour is to be seen but, if he does, it would set up a tantilising race where this year’s Giro d’Italia champion, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), is also likely to be among the starters.