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Contador Was Not Obligated to Wait

Posted by Bruce Hildenbrand on Jul 20, 2010 5:58:06 AM

Stage 15 from Pamiers to Luchon provided yet more drama as Andy Schleck's chain derailed just as he laid down a blistering attack near the summit of the day's final climb, the Port de Bales.  Because, on paper, Alberto Contador is such a superior time trialist, Schleck needs to gain time on the Spaniard if he has any hope of wearing the yellow jersey after the 32 mile(52km) time trial in Bordeaux the day before the Tour ends in Paris.b


Unfortunately, Schleck lost approximately 45 seconds dealing with his derailed chain. That was just enough time for Contador to take over the yellow jersey.  The big question after the stage was whether Contador should have waited for Schleck to fix his chain since Schleck was wearing the yellow jersey at the time.


There is an unwritten rule that you wait for the yellow jersey if he has a misfortune such as a crash or a flat. The rule is less clear for something like a derailed chain. Having a chain come off is usually user error. User error does not fall under the unwritten rule of waiting for the yellow jersey.


Some might argue that a crash is user error and that is a good point, but it seems like the pros don't view a slipped chain as being in the same category.


Also, it is important to point out that when Sylvain Chavanel crashed on the cobbles on stage 3 while wearing yellow, nobody waited for him.  In fact, it was Andy Schleck's team, Saxo Bank, driving it at the front. To be fair, it must be pointed out that neither the Saxo Bank director sportif, Bjarne Riis, or Andy Schleck himself think that Contador should have waited. This issue seems to have more traction with the fans than the riders themselves.


Contador was not obligated to wait. It was a racing incident.  He probably shouldn't have said that he didn't see what happened because he probably did. But, besides that, I don't think what Contador did should be considered unfair sportsmanship and the riders in the Tour agree.



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