Contador at Vuelta: Pistolero loses power

Contador and complication

Contador and complication

“It’s complicated.” A two word summation that Alberto Contador has been using a lot this season. He said it at the Tour de France where his week one crashed ultimately knocked him out of the race before it was half over.

He has said it in the Vuelta a España where he lost time on stage one and three then crashed in the final kilometer of stage 7 before losing time again today on the summit finish of stage 10 on Covadonga, an Alpe d’Huez-ish climb that’s long and brutal.

What’s complicated is the injury, road rash, banged knee, assorted bumps and bruises, morale knocked silly. What;’s complicated is staying upright, avoiding crashes, getting a good night’s sleep, trying to recover from injury while tackling major mountain climbs, watching riles Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana drop him.

It’s complicated this year for the Spaniard. Complicated by bad luck, misfortune, wrong places at wrong times, the irritation of the Cycling Gods who may or may not have decided that Alberto should have retired instead of announcing another year with his new Trek Segafredo squad in 2017.

“I don’t like using the word impossible, but I do find myself in a very difficult position,” said Contador, subbing out complicated for impossible and difficult. Yes, he’s nearly 3 minutes behind the red jersey of Quintana and fifth on GC.

It’s a tribute to Contador’s reputation for mental strength and never-say-die attitude that we haven’t written him off the podium. After tomorrow’s day of rest, he may resurrect himself as the left-for-dead Vincenzo Nibali did in winning this year’s Giro d’Italia in the final week against huge odds.

None the less, given all variables, inputs and performance curves, yes, it’s complicated. Tour champion Chris Froome simply refuses to fade even when dropped, clawing his way up to second overall. The same goes for Quintana’s teammate Alejandro Valverde, currently second on GC despite riding both the Giro and Tour. Nor does it appear that Orica-BikeExchange’s Esteban Chavez and Simon Yates are planning to vacate their high positions.

In other words, as the man in the lime green lycra says, it’s complicated.

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