Alberto Contador (Astana) dodged a bullet when he narrowly escaped crashing in a late-stage pileup involving race leader Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), but Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Basso (Liquigas) couldn’t dodge a dog.
Contador couldn’t brake in time as crashing riders entirely blocked the road in the second of three crashes that marred the run-in of Sunday’s 223.5km stage from Rotterdam to Brussels. The Spanish climber says he didn’t fall, but suffered a blow to the left leg.
“It’s nothing that I cannot cure with some ice,” said Contador, who finished with the same time as the favorites to remain sixth, at 27 seconds back. “There were a lot of crashes at the end of the stage and I was just behind the one involving Cancellara, and I didn’t have time to brake. I hit those who had fallen, but I am happy all things considered. I have a deep blow to my left leg, but it’s nothing serious.”
Contador’s clean start to the 2010 Tour almost came crumbling down late in Sunday’s fast and windy stage.
“Today was challenging due to the wind, which was close to causing some splits in the bunch, but the team was super motivated today. They allowed me to go without using so much energy and save my strength for another day,” Contador said. “We saved the day pretty well.”
One of Contador’s key helpers, David de la Fuente, suffered blows to his arm when he collided with a fan alongside the road, but was not otherwise seriously injured.
Basso, meanwhile, suffered cuts and scrapes to his knee when he hit the deck along with Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden (both RadioShack) and David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) at 60km into the stage, when a dog ran onto the course.
“I smacked my right knee, causing some cuts and abrasions,” Basso said. “There doesn’t seem to be anything serious, but the patella is always an important point. I hope I don’t have discomfort in the coming days. Falling is never pleasant, but I hope to avoid risks in these coming days.”