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« Two Recent Finds | Main | Disappointed but not Heartbroken »
Tuesday
Jul152014

Chicken or the Egg?

Which came first, did Alberto Contador’s bike break and cause him to crash, or did Contador fall breaking his leg and the frame at the same time?

The above picture of a bike, taken soon after the crash with Contador’s race number 31 on it, shows the top tube separated at the point it joins the seat tube. The down tube is broken mid-way.

Unfortunately, there were no cameras there to film the actual crash as it happened. Speculation as to what actually happened was immediate online and on TV. There followed denials from Contador’s team that the frame break caused the crash. At first saying the broken frame was not even Alberto’s bike but someone else’s, and it had fell off a bike rack earlier.

According to this article in Velo-News, the story was then changed, and yes it was Contador’s bike, but after the crash the bike was laid in the road in front of the team car, and during all the excitement of attending to the fallen rider, the bike was forgotten and they accidentally drove over it.

If this was the case, then the above photo doesn’t make sense. It does not appear to me as a bike run over by a car. The frame tubes appear to be broken not crushed. And why is the front wheel not crushed also, along with the water bottle cages?

In this account of the crash by Tinkoff team manager, Barne Riis, he stated:

“Alberto crashed on a fast and straight part of the descent. He was reaching for his pocket and the bike was swept away under him probably because of a bump or hole in the road.”

I was not there, I only have the information from articles written by people who were there. But piecing together this information, along with the above photograph, then making an educated guess, based on the many crashed frames I have seen over the years. This is the scenario I would put forward.

Descending at a speed of at least 50 km. per hour, Alberto hit a pot hole. The impact would be like a hammer blow up the seatstays, stopping at the seat post with the weight of the rider sitting on the saddle. The seatstays being partially attached to the sides of the top tube, would push the top tube away from the seat tube. Once the top tube had separated, the down tube would break.

Unless a rider hits something solid, usually when he falls, the bike slides out from under him and a rider will come away with road rash. Small bones in the hand are sometimes broken. But to break a leg, one usually hits something solid, like a car, or they are thrown down violently on the road. As for example, when a frame falls apart beneath you.

 

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Reader Comments (11)

One of the links in your story is now up to FOUR different versions of what happened to Contador's bike:
http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/07/news/timeline-details-alberto-contadors-tour-ending-crash_336328.

Given sponsors interests, I think it very hard to get the straight story on what happened to both Contador and his bike. However there are two important details that make me think the bike shown in the photo was likely not the bike that Contador was actually riding at the time he crashed.

1) "A brief shot on television showed his mechanic picking up his crashed bike, still in one piece." (see story link above)

2) Despite having a race number, the broken bike in the photo is surprisingly clean looking. Given the wet roads and conditions for the stage up to that point, I would expect the portion of the seat tube facing the wheel to be absolutely covered with dirt and splatter if that was the bike that Contador had been riding at the time of the crash.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

One important detail:

Contador was riding his all-black Specialized bike on this stage, from the beginning. He crashed on that bike, not the broken one pictured, which, as pointed out is clean.
When the TV coverage picks up the story up, Contador is sitting on the bank with his all-black bike next to him. The mechanic takes a yellow and black bike off the roof on which Contador rides till he abandons the Tour. The mechanic picks up the all-black bike and you can see number plate 31 on it.
What is weird is supposedly Roche gave Contador his bike (not one off the team car), which would have been a yellow/black Specialized, after a crash that supposedly happened before the TV coverage. That would mean Contador crashed twice. But the coverage shows him sitting next to his original black bike with his number on it...and the black bike is not broken.
Where does that play into the scenario?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Hmm. After reading the account of an actual rider on the team who was first to respond, I don't think that the "brief shot on television" of a mechanic picking up an unbroken bike means anything. (Contador had already been given the bike of another rider by the time the mechanics arrived).

The first person account also does confirm that Contador's bike WAS broken after the crash. However I don't think any of the photos we have seen are of that actual bike (which should be covered with road grime as well as broken). Part of the problem is that Contador's original bike ended up in the hands of a different rider, and Contador himself was already down the rode 2 km on a different bike before stopping again and getting his first help from team medics and mechanics!
See:
http://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/cycling/we-were-so-confident-in-alberto-we-didnt-have-a-plan-b-then-plan-a-went-out-the-window-30431225.html

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Still photos show the all-black bike (with orange along the bottom of the tubes) next to Contador as he sits on the grass bank being attended to by the medic is number 37, not 31. So it is Roche's bike, the one he had given to Contador after his crash (he only fell once). The team car wasn't around so Roche gave up his bike.
Contador stopped shortly after that as his shoe was broken and he needed medical attention.
The team car removes a new yellow/black bike for Contador, on which he continues until his Tour ends.
The Question is how was Contador's bike damaged, as Roche says it was. There are no photos on any websites of the bike Contador crashed on (yet).
And all indications are Contador's hands came off the bars after he hit a hole/bump, not from a frame failure.
I've done that before...

Steve

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Regardsless of what actually happened. The fact that we are even having this discussion makes me wonder why anyone would buy\ride a carbon fiber frame. Yikes!?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermikebike

I'm gonna await for the Zapruder film as there are too many conspiracy theories here complete with a grassy bank and a "magic" bike. :-)

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJW

mikebike - my sentiments exactly. I understand professional riders using carbon frames for racing, when every tiny weight/speed advantage is important, and the trade-off in durability makes sense. But for any other kind of riding, WHY? An enormous amount of money for a disposable bike - certainly not my idea of a good time.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJesse

I'll take a decent steel frame anytime. I don't want or need a disposable bike. Whatever happened, that is scary looking.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul S

I'd be curious whether a highest-quality steel racing frame with the same wheels etc would really be a disadvantage in a modern professional racing context. The whole bike would still be probably like only 17-18lb.

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRubeRad

Nice post and very informative. I want to buy a mountain bike any one can suggest me which brand is good for me.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatchnride

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