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Have Tour de France Crashes Taken Alberto Contador Out of the Yellow Jersey Chase?

Watch the Spaniard bail bad as his bid for the General Classification takes a big blow...

 

Tour de France crash. Alberto Contador must hate the phrase. He’s certainly had his fair share over the years, and another couple in the early days of the 2016 Tour de France have contributed to one of his worst ever starts to the race.

Writing at the end of stage five of the Tour de France, Contador is sitting in 25th position in the General Classification, with fellow pre-Tour favourites Chris Froome in fifth, Nairo Quintana in seventh and Fabio Aru in eighth.

Contador is one minute and 21 seconds off Froome. Let’s take a look at how it’s all unfolded so far…

Tour de France Crash – Alberto Contador 2016 | The Story So Far

 

On stage one Alberto lost his wheel going round a bend and took some savage cuts as a result with around 79km left to ride.

“I’ve got road rash on all my body, from my knee to shoulder,” he said after stage one. “But that’s road cycling. You work hard for months and then you crash on the first day. But I’m not going home and so I hope to recover fully in time for the mountain stages.”

He lost enough skin to keep him awake for a week and make his shower time that bit more painful as well as needing work on his shoulder, but it also meant that if he took another crash he’d be in trouble – which he did, most unfortunately, on stage two of the Tour.

While Contador was able to avoid any major time losses or major injuries after his crash on stage one, he wasn’t so lucky this time around, losing a huge 48 seconds on Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana after a mid-stage crash.

This time around it was even more unfortunate for Alberto. On the wheel of Etixx-QuickStep’s Tony Martin as Tony went down over a speed bump, the Spaniard was thrown from his bike, hitting his handlebars and slamming on the floor.

Contador crashed on the other side to the injuries that he took on stage one, but injured his knee, calf and left shoulder, and of course took some damning blows to his morale in the process.

Speaking after his second crash in two days, Contador admitted: “You need to be mentally strong to overcome a Tour start as bad as this one. Especially after so much hard work.

“Cycling is like that. I’ll have to try to be strong and not lose confidence. I have to think that it will be possible to recover when I get to my terrain [in the mountains]. I tried to minimize my losses but I gave away some time in only two days of racing.

“I can’t be downbeat but my morale is not intact.”

Tour de France Crash – Alberto Contador 2016 | What Does it Mean for the General Classification?

 

 

Alberto certainly struggled up the final climb of stage two as his rivals powered ahead, but the worst of it is that he’s lost more time since as well, and his chances of winning the Tour have taken a huge blow early on as a result.

Contador lost a further 33 seconds to his general classification rivals Froome and Quintana on stage five of the Tour, and admitted he may have to change his game plan if he’s got a chance of staying in contention.

“I knew today would be complicated for me,” he said. “[My rivals] tested me at the end of the stage and I lost a bit of time. It’s becoming a different kind of Tour for me, where I have to go day by day and perhaps change my objectives. I have to see if I can recover for the Pyranees and if I can’t then I’ll have to wait for my moment in the Alps.”

For one reason or another, Contador was left alone by his teammates to chase up that hill on stage five at the end, and while he remains optimistic – “One thing I’m sure about is that I’m here to put up a fight and do what I can. I’m not wounded mentally.” – what real chance does he now have of taking the maillot jaune?

Well, for a start, we can’t rule out that Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana or Fabio Aru won’t take some equally as bad crashes at some point. It’s a tough race. But it’s not looking good for Contador.

1.21 minutes off Froome in fifth place, and having lost time on climbs he would normally be looking to gain on, there’s now questions over whether Contador will lose more time in the Pyranees this weekend over terrain that he would normally be looking at for progress.

 

Contador has hinted that if can’t recover for the weekend, he might have to switch his tactics and start stage hunting.

Realistically at this stage, unless things do go wrong for the other contenders, it’s unlikely Contador has a chance of taking the yellow jersey at the end of the race. He was ranked third favourite by the bookies at the start of the Tour and is now a huge 50/1 to win the Tour outright.

Nairo Quintana has lost little to no time and showed technical form on the flats. Froome has looked motivated and more than up to the physical challenge. Fabio Aru has been solid without expressing any real intentions as of yet.

At this point, it’s looking like Quintana is really the only one though who could challenge Froome for the yellow jersey at the end of the race.

Contador has been struggling since the start and those early crashed look to have dampened his bid too fiercely for him to recover without some kind of mistakes or misfortune for the other contenders. He looked off the pace in the hills on stage five and it’s likely that’ll be a good indicator for the weekend.

We’d love to see the Spanish legend recover and romp back into contention, but at this moment in time, it looks like the race for the 2016 Tour de France has become a two-horse race.

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