A stunning year, which had propelled him to the top of the UCI world rankings, marked Alberto Contador as one of the favourites for the Tour de France, especially when Chris Froome (Team Sky) crashed out.
Though El Pistolero had lost time on the cobbles to Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), he was pulling out all the stops to claw back the deficit – not least as he shot down a rapid descent on stage ten.
He passed Nibali and the Italian’s chief doemstique Jakob Fuglsang and continued to power down the technical descent.
Moments later, however, he was lying in a ditch, badly injured.
He got up and mounted a replacement bike, with his team-mates waiting by his side, but just 30 kilometres later climbed off – later discovering a fractured tibia was the root cause of his discomfort.
Leg in a cast, Contador’s hopes of winning the Tour were not only over but seemingly his Vuelta a Espana ambitions too.
Fortunately, however, his form in his home country so far suggests at least those fears were very much exaggerated.
Riding out in the red jersey for stage 11 today, Contador is now favourite to seal his third Vuelta a Espana title – perhaps the curse of the contender is not as prevalent as first feared.