SAINT LO, France (VN) — Alberto Contador grimaced as he stepped out of the Tinkoff team bus Sunday morning. The two-time Tour de France winner cautiously held out his right arm as he signed an autograph for a young fan.
“It was a rough night,” Contador told a handful of journalists waiting in the rain. “I hurt all over. I could barely sleep.”
Contador’s optimism ahead of the 2016 Tour de France turned black following a high-speed crash in Saturday’s opening stage. The Spanish superstar landed hard on his right shoulder after his front tire slipped out coming through a traffic circle. Overnight, he struggled to sleep with his body covered in scrapes, bruises, and blows.
“My massage therapist gave me a rub-down this morning, and we used this [electric stimulation] machine to loosen me up. The most difficulty will be at the beginning, hopefully it won’t limit me too much,” he said. “It’s a pity that today’s finale is so demanding, so I hope to get through it as best I can, and not lose time. And if I do lose time, I hope it’s as little as possible.”
It’s hardly the start Contador was hoping for. After a solid spring season, including victory at the Tour of the Basque Country (Vuelta al País Vasco), the Spaniard was hoping to take it to archrival Chris Froome (Sky) in the mountains.
Getting there is never easy for the GC candidates, and bad luck struck early for Tinkoff.
“I’m happy that I am still in the race, especially considering how hard I crashed,” Contador said. “Let’s see how I get through the day. My main problem will be to put on and take off the rain cape, and to grab the food bag.”
Midway through Sunday’s second stage, Contador was caught up in another crash, and forced to change his bike. This is not how he wanted to start his Tour.