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Tour de France

Alberto Contador hits deck in stage 9 of 2011 Tour de France after getting tangled with Vladimir Karpets

Alberto Contador wound up on the deck in stage 9 after getting tangled up with Vladimir Karpets.

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SAINT-FLOUR, France (VN) — Nobody messes with Vladimir Karpets (Katusha), even if it’s three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard).

Contador hit the deck midway through Sunday’s crash-marred ninth stage across the Massif Central and landed hard on his right hip and knee. The crash quickly generated buzz on the internet after a video clip suggested the 6-foot-3, 170-pound Russian rider deliberately steered into Contador.

Reactions at the finish line from the two protagonists reveal what really happened.

Karpets confirmed that he bumped shoulders with Contador, telling TV journalist Matt Rendall outside the Katusha bus, “Yes, yes, he hit me with his wrist.”

Contador said it wasn’t anything intentional from the Russian rider.

“It was an accident. I got my handlebar tangled up with his seat,” Contador told journalists at the finish line. “I got knocked off balance and crashed. There were spectators on the road and I hit against them.

“I had some bad luck because my bike hit my knee and it hurt throughout the stage. During the stage, I was feeling some pain in my right knee and I am a little bit worried, because the past few days I was feeling it in the same knee. Now it’s on the inside, so I hope between today and tomorrow, with a lot of ice, I can recover. ”

Dimitri Konyshev, sport director at Katusha, told VeloNews and another reporter that “these things happen in cycling.”

“I don’t know what happened. I haven’t spoken to Karpets yet,” Konyshev said. “What’s sure, if someone bumps into Karpets, it’s usually the other one who gets bumped away.”

The mishap is just the latest in what’s been a very bumpy ride for Contador, who started this Tour as the man to beat but has since crashed, lost time and struggled with aches and pains. Contador admitted he’s ready for Monday’s rest day.

“This has not been my Tour,” Contador admitted. “It’s very complicated, from setbacks and bad luck, but one has to be optimistic. There’s still a lot of racing left to go and I need to concentrate on recovering as quickly as possible before the first stages in the Pyrénées.

“I’m glad the rest day is here because I have inflammation. We’re racing on roads that are more narrow than what we usually see, and maybe because we’ve been in the north and with the rain, it’s provoked some crashes.”