Just got back from watching Stage 15 from Pamiers to Bagnères du Luchon up at the Warehouse, and like many others, I must assert that Alberto Contador is a complete and total douchebag.
For those who missed the stage, Team Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck, the then-current leader of the this year’s Tour attacked on the final climb up the hors category Port de Balès, and opened a decent gap. Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov countered and was closing the gap when Andy got out of the saddle to stomp on the pedals and dropped his chain (it was pretty amazing to watch) … as Schleck was looking down to try to figure out what happened, Astana leader Alberto Contador launched a hard attack from well behind Schleck and was followed by Sammy Sanchez (Euskatel-Euskado) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank).
Contador says he had already launched his attack, but if you look at the replays, it was very obvious that Schleck was having some sort of mechanical issue; even if you take him at his word, he knew about the problem immediately after and could have shut it down and given Schleck a few seconds to get his chain back on and rejoin the group before attacking.
It’s a 3-week race, and there are unwritten rules.
You don’t attack in the feed zone. You don’t attack during a “natural break” … and you don’t attack the maillot jaune when he has a mechanical.
I’m not saying stop and wait, but at least stop pushing the pace to give the leader a chance to get back in the group before attacking. You don’t have to wait for him to recover once he’s back, but at least give him a chance to get back.
Maybe Contador wouldn’t have re-taken the yellow jersey today if he had waited. Maybe he would. Who knows? In any case, the following quote by Gerard Vroomen (owner of Cervelo Test Team) says it best: “Contador just gained a great chance to win, but he lost the chance to win greatly.”