Tour de France 2013: Alberto Contador races to recover after opening-day crash


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The Independent Online

Spain's Alberto Contador was the leading rider most badly affected by Saturday's first pile-up of the Tour, suffering injuries to both shoulders, a sore right knee and a bad cut on his left elbow.

"He's got some nasty grazes on both upper shoulders," said Philippe Mauduit, Contador's sports director, "and we'll have to see how it goes. He's in good shape physically so that should make the recovery a lot quicker."

In classic motorway pile-up style, Mauduit said Contador had had time to brake when the crash happened, 4 kilometres from the finish of the first stage, "but as he was standing there waiting for it to clear, another rider didn't have time to stop and slammed into him".

Fifteen riders were injured in that and a smaller crash preceding it in a chaotic finale to the Tour's opening stage which also saw a team bus stuck under the finish gantry, barely 15 minutes before the riders, racing at nearly 40mph, got there themselves.

In a bewildering series of decisions, race officials first relocated the finish 3km from the line, then - when the bus was cleared - relocated it back to its original position. The double switch caused confusion enough to see the entire field given the same finishing time by race officials, but the crash had longer term consequences, too. Tony Martin, twice the world time-trial champion, started yesterday's stage swathed in bandages after suffering concussion, bruising on his upper body and cuts to his hip, chest, knee and left shoulder and elbow. After he twice passed out on the team bus, he was taken to hospital on a stretcher. With no bones broken, the German was allowed to continue in the Tour.

While Martin is a key part of Mark Cavendish's leadout train, Contador's injuries could have a serious impact on one of the top contenders for the overall classification. "I just hope I can be fully recovered in time for the team time trial," Contador said, before safely finishing yesterday's stage.