MONTAUBAN, France (VN) — Some of the tension inside the Tinkoff team bus spilled out into plain view at the end of Wednesday’s hilly finale in the Massif Central.
A hobbled Alberto Contador was left isolated when Rafal Majka did not sit up when it was obvious he had no chance to win the stage, and Roman Kreuziger pedaled away to stay with the GC leaders as Contador struggled to keep pace when Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) attacked over the top.
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Contador rode across the line 33 seconds behind the leaders to drop to 1:21 off the top GC riders, while Kreuziger finished safely in the front group.
At the finish line Wednesday, Contador downplayed the mix-up, insisting his injuries were more worrying than the polemics after two heavy crashes in the Tour’s first week. On Thursday morning, he had something else to say.
“The team orders were clear, and his decision was something else. That’s the reality,” Contador told journalists. “The team tactics weren’t the problem, it was that Kreuziger acted on his own. We’ve talked about it, and we’ll turn the page on the misunderstanding. We’ll see how far we can get in this Tour.”
Media swarmed around the Tinkoff bus to talk to principal actors. Kreuziger simply shrugged off the episode, saying he didn’t realize Contador was struggling. Tinkoff sport director Steven De Jongh told Dutch journalists that he told Kreuziger over the radio to wait for Contador, but also insisted it was a misunderstanding, and nothing more serious.
Contador saw it another way.
“I didn’t feel abandoned. The situation unfolded as it did, but its more worrying the image that it transmits of Tinkoff,” Contador continued. “It doesn’t affect me, and throughout my career, things like this have happened before. The ambience within the group is good. The most important thing is to recover as best I can before the Pyrénées, and to look at the future with a little more optimism.”
With Tinkoff folding at the end of the season, it’s clearly every man for himself. Don’t expect to see Kreuziger and Contador in the same jersey next season.