BAGNÈRES-DE-LUCHON, France (VN) — Alberto Contador’s Tour de France hopes all but ended Saturday, as the Tinkoff rider lost 1:41 and dropped to 20th at 3:12 behind new leader Chris Froome (Sky).
With his body still struggling from a pair of hard crashes to open the Tour, Contador all but waved the white flag Saturday, and confirmed that teammate Roman Kreuziger has the green light to race for GC.
“Already since yesterday, Kreuziger has total freedom to race for the GC,” Contador said. “I am someone who never loses hope, but there is a lot of time already to the leader, and tomorrow will be even harder. My body needs to recover.”
Earlier this week, Tinkoff was the center of a controversy in stage 5 when Contador was left abandoned by his teammates near the finish in the stage across the Massif Central. Kreuziger pedaled away to stay with the leaders while Contador struggled and lost time.
Kreuziger was soundly criticized, but he is now the team’s best GC option. The Czech rider stayed with the favorites Saturday, and slotted into 12th overall at 34 seconds back.
On Saturday, Contador was able to stay with the front group until day’s fourth and final climb, when he finally lost contact as Sky and Movistar began attacking at the front.
“It was hard right from the start of the stage. I knew it would be difficult to make it through the day,” Contador said. “My body isn’t responding as I would have liked. These crashes are catching up with me. That’s cycling, and see what we can do with the rest of the Tour.”
Contador had hoped to challenge Froome for the yellow jersey, but now he’ll hope to salvage something from this Tour with perhaps a stage win if he feels better in the second half.
The popular Spaniard insists that pulling out is not on the radar.
“No way. That’s not even an option,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to remember that I abandoned this Tour. If we’re here, it’s to try to do something. But we’ll see. My body needs a rest, and tomorrow is going to be a very hard day.”