14 July 2014


To abandon, fail, give up, be forced to end

1. remove or take away (something) from a particular place or position.
2. leave or come back from a place, especially a war zone.

Le Tour calls it "no longer riding", whatever you call it, watching it was really painful. It is a testament to the mental strength and physical toughness of a professional bike racer that they do not give up easily. Many of the riders who have withdrawn from the Tour de France this year suffered fractures, some tried to ride on through the pain to the point of non function.

Today was an emotional day of tears at the Tour de France. Not a good day, regardless if you are the type that tries to see the glass as half full. Sure Nibali, Valverde, Porte, VanGarderen, and four French men (!) are still in the fight, but the sight of Tony Gallopin drooling in the final kilometers and sobbing over the finish line, sums up how many of us felt about the day, Bastille Day to boot.

All the attention given to who will win pre-race, all the focus on training and preparation, all the confidence demonstrated - can be shattered within seconds. Yes this is the race, an analogy of life itself, and yes the saying, "Life is not fair, shut up and suffer," applies. But Stage 10 seemed sad and cruel today, even with Peter Sagan's let's cheer everyone up with an 11% no hands wheelie over the finish line.
Stage 10  had a major impact on the overall GC standings and on the remainder of the race. I for one am glad there is a rest day tomorrow because I need to decide how, what and whom I am going to watch for the remaining thirteen days.

General Classification after Stage 10 (thank you Steephill.TV for compiling)
ITA  1  NIBALI, Vincenzo (ASTANA)                         42:33:38
AUS  2  PORTE, Richie (SKY)                                +  2:23
ESP  3  VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR)            +  2:47
FRA  4  BARDET, Romain (AG2R LA MONDIALE)                  +  3:01
FRA  5  GALLOPIN, Tony (LOTTO BELISOL)                     +  3:12
FRA  6  PINOT, Thibaut (FDJ.fr)                            +  3:47
USA  7  VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING)                   +  3:56
FRA  8  PERAUD, Jean-Christophe (AG2R LA MONDIALE)         +  3:57
POR  9  FARIA DA COSTA, Rui Alberto (LAMPRE - MERIDA)      +  3:58
NED  10 MOLLEMA, Bauke (BELKIN)                            +  4:08
BEL  11 VAN DEN BROECK, Jurgen (LOTTO BELISOL)             +  4:18
DEN  12 FUGLSANG, Jakob (ASTANA)                           +  4:31
GBR  14 THOMAS, Geraint (SKY)                              +  5:17

Tremendously sad sight today as Alberto Contador abandoned the race. (Photo AP) via @Telegraph link to tweet

Three more riders today were added to the growing list of 18 withdraws for the 2014 TDF:

Rest Day
Fsbian Cancellara TFR quit

Stage 10
Matthew Hayman OGE 
Ted King CAN
Alberto Contador TCS (video)

Stage 9
Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel COF

Stage 8
Frank Mathias  IAM (DNS)
Bart De Clercq LTB

Stage 7
Danny Van Poppel TFR
John Darwin Atapuma BMC
Stef Clement BEL

Stage 6
Ariel Macimiliano Ticheze LAM (DNS)
Jesus Alberto Hernandez Blazquez TCS
Egor Silin KAT
Zabier Zandio Echaide SKY

Stage 5
Chris Froome SKY

Stage 4
Andy Shcleck TFR (DNS)
Greg Henderson LTB

Stage 3
Sacha Modolo LTB
Mark Cavendish OPQ (DNS)

Was Contador's bike broken?

Photo of the damaged toptube, downtube, seattube and VeloNews report whether the damaged was caused under Contador or by a car (and six possible scenarios NOT accurate). This article explains the story of the day the best: The Independent, we were so confident in Alberto we didn't have a plan B. With Nicolas Roche's eye witness account.

Update 07/15/14:

Contador's big fall was caused when he reached for food in his back pocket while descending (the fall that Valverde witnessed as his "handlebars slipped"). Contador received a bike from teammate Nicolas Roche. Roche reported that Alberto's bike was broken in the fall. Roche waited with Alberto's bike for the team car. Contador road on a bit with Roche's encouragement, then stopped at the side of the road for the medical and team cars to catch up with him. The bike on scene at the side of the road while Contador was attended to was in fact Roche's bike. Alberto was bandaged, got new shoes and got back on yet another replacement bike taken from the team car. He continued with Sergio Paulhino and Nicolas Roche, coming upon Rafel Makjka and Michael Rogers a little later up the road, after 10km that adrenalin rush faded into inability and Cantador's abandon. Five of his teammates banded together in a team time trial formation and finished the race 18 minutes behind the race leader.

Indeed the broken #31 bike was Contador's, and indeed it was broken in the fall. Saxo-Tinkoff claims it was broken when hitting a Belkin team car.

Men of carbon and steel

After the race and all the talk and controversy over Alberto Contador's broken bike, it was quickly discovered that Alberto had ridden 18km on a fractured tibia. He was seen dancing on the pedals through the pain. Chris Froome himself had also attempted to steer his way onto the cobbles with a fractured hand and wrist just days earlier. No one can say the modern men of the peloton are without the right stuff.

And what of Tiago Machado (NetApp-Enduro report) today? Reported to have abandoned after a long skidding fall, he crawled back out of the ambulance onto his bike and continued racing. He finished dead last (43'06" after Nibali) along with teammate Andreas Schillinger, over the time cutoff, but Le Tour race jury has allowed both men to remain in the race. These are the stories of modern legend.

By far my favorite camera footage of the day could be seen at 90,8km into the race after Alberto Contador's fall. As a battered and bloody Contador floated up the road climbing behind his teammates, one by one each rider turned to watch the marvel. They must have been thinking as they turned in succession to face this brave man, what happened to him?!

Soon everyone would know that one of the most talented climbers would abandon the race just kilometers up the road, and this, the first major climbing day of the Tour. It was the solitary drop of a head by Michael Rogers, riding near Alberto after a discussion next to their team car, that signaled what was about to happen.

Alberto Contador would withdraw.