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July 2, 2016 – Two-time former winner Alberto Contador insisted his Tour de France challenge remained strong despite crashing on Saturday’s opening stage. Contador appeared to injure his shoulder in the fall on the 188km run from Mont Saint-Michel to Utah Beach. “All my right side is injured, from the knee to the shoulder,” he told the official Tour website after the stage.
“We know how cycling is: months of preparation and the first day you’re on the ground. Fortunately nothing is broken and I’ll try to pass the next few days the best I can to recover before the mountains.”
His Tinkoff team initially insisted the 33-year-old was “fine” before he went to see a doctor. “When you crash, you get back on the bike and don’t feel pain, but then after the stage you might be in trouble,” had said Steven de Jongh, Tinkoff’s sports director. With just under 80km left, Spaniard Contador and one of his Tinkoff team-mates came down on a tight right-hand corner, bringing down Luke Rowe, the Sky team-mate of reigning champion Chris Froome, as well.
“There was a lot of tension because we were fighting for positions at the front to avoid the wind,” said Contador. “We were paying attention but I saw a central reservation too late and the front wheel went to the side. It’s bad luck, I’m screwed.”
The seven-time Grand Tour winner got up quickly and rode on, with Croatian team-mate Robert Kiserlovski lending him his bike, but his jersey was shredded around his right shoulder. Several team-mates helped pace him back up to the peloton which had slightly slowed its tempo after his crash. Once back, though, he had to change his right shoe while riding his bike due to damaged caused in his crash — briefly continuing to peddle wearing only a sock on his right foot. He also received attention from the medical car as the race continued, having a large bandage placed on his injured shoulder.
One of the doctors even had to rip more of his jersey to free up space to place various bandages. The crash happened at a time when the pace was high in the peloton due to the possibilities of cross-winds causing splits in the pack. Cross-winds could again feature on Sunday’s stage, meaning high tension and a fast pace.
“My shoulder hurts depending on my position but the Tour de France doesn’t end here,” said a defiant Contador. “I want to be optimistic, I’m thinking of taking a maximum profit of the hours ahead of tomorrow’s uphill finish to recover.” Two years ago, the Spaniard had to pull out of the Tour after coming off his bike and breaking his leg on a fast descent on the 10th stage.
Contador is one of the favourites for overall victory alongside Briton Froome and Colombian Nairo Quintana. Briton Mark Cavendish won Saturday’s opening stage in a sprint finish.