Yesterday Alberto Contador crashed, broke his tibia, got back on a different bike and 20k later retired from the tour. Sad, but straightforward enough.
This was a phenomenal display of courage and toughness to keep on riding which should be making the headlines but instead what happened to his bike is the real talking point.
Conspiracy theories abound, but the answers might be there, if you dig deep enough and keep an open mind.
With twitter and Facebook timelines in all languages exploding, the manufacturer of the bike, Specialized reacted immediately with statements that were confusing as they themselves did not have all the facts but tried to respond anyway.
The frame may have snapped after hitting a pot-hole but a more likely scenario of what might have happened is that Contador crashed, Nico Roche then gave him his bike and waited for the team car to come along. In a panic the mechanic put the crashed bike on the roof of the car but did not secure it properly. The team car then drove on to catch up with Contador and tried to pass the Belkin team car, half on the road, half up on the ditch. The loose bike became entangled with a bike on the roof of the belkin car, and travelled 400 meters down the road bouncing off the front of the car causing the real damage to the bike.
This would explain the broken bike having his frame number and transponder attached.
The seat post of the broken bike is pushed fully into the frame. With the clamp tightened to 5nm by one of the best mechanics in the World, the force required for a rider as light as Contador to push the seat post down on impact would have left him in worse pain than the broken tibia, and walking like John Wayne for a week. There was no sign of this in the aftermath.
Dimitry Konichev in his broken english, whilst being interviewed by Greg LeMond in his scattered english had much of this answer right after the stage. He described a Saxo bike getting hooked and ending up on the roof of the Belkin team car and travelling 400 meters down the road with the bike bouncing around.
This theory all made sense until the team released a photo this morning of a bike that they say is the bike that Contador crashed, which is unbroken aside from a lever twisted inwards slightly and a bit of mud on the bar tape. No obvious sign of damage to the hoods, saddle or rear mech and the brake lever looks unbroken. Now I’m all confused again. Both bikes have number 31 and both bikes have transponders. Maybe it’s possible to get spare numbers for a spare bike but a spare gps transponder ?
The saga continues, but the grit, determination and sheer hardness of Contador riding 20k with a broken bone in his leg is what will be remembered long after the bike is forgotten.