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June 3, 2016 – Twice former winner Alberto Contador said he was trying to keep his morale high after losing 48 seconds to his main Tour de France rivals on Sunday. The 33-year-old Spaniard crashed for the second day in a row during the Tour second stage and when he arrived at the tough uphill finish in Cherbourg, he didn’t have the strength to keep up with his overall rivals Chris Froome, the reigning champion, and Nairo Quintana.
And he said it was the after effects from his crash on Saturday’s opening stage, in which he injured his entire right side, that cost him on Sunday. “I lost more time than I had hoped to lose. I suffered another crash, I hit the handlebars and I was hurt on the other side from yesterday,” said Contador, the Tinkoff team leader who won the Tour in 2007 and 2009.
“I must stay calm, not lose morale, I’m still standing but I have been really hurt. The Tour has really started on the wrong footing. I’m not happy at all. It’s cycling. I must see if I can make up some time in the Pyrenees and the Alps, see what I can do.”
But he said that his injuries prevented him from pushing as hard on the pedals as he needed to, especially when the pace cranked up on Sunday’s run-in to the finish.
“I’m physically hampered. I cannot pedal as I would like as the result of crashes. The important thing is to keep my morale, not fall apart, which is sometimes complicated. Both legs are badly hurt.”
His Tinkoff team-mate Peter Sagan won Sunday’s stage and will wear the race leader’s yellow jersey on Monday’s long, mostly flat, 223.5km run from Granville to Angers as the Tour heads south following two days in Normandy. Sagan said it was Germany’s Tony Martin who caused Contador to crash. “Alberto had a little bit of bad luck,” he said. “Yesterday he crashed badly, but he was OK. “Today I was very close. Tony Martin lost his handlebars because of a speed bump in the road and crashed with Alberto. “It was a stupid crash, what can you do? It’s bad luck but I hope Alberto will be well.”
Sagan won after a back-and-forth battle with Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe in the final few hundred metres of Sunday’s 183km run from Saint-Lo. Alaphilippe said he launched his sprint too soon, overtaking Sagan with 300-metres left, only to be passed by the Slovak before the finishing line. But the 24-year-old was nonetheless pleased to come so close to a stage win on his first Tour participation. “I’m happy, it’s my first Tour de France, it’s satisfying,” he said.
“I’m here to learn, to work hard and when opportunities like this come along, I have to take them.” For Belgian Jasper Stuyvens it was a bittersweet day as he spent 182.5km in a breakaway, only to be caught 500-meters from the finishing line. Holding on for so long, though, allowed the former world junior champion to take the polkadot climber’s jersey off his breakaway companion Paul Voss.
“My main feeling is disappointment. In the breakaway, I knew I’d be the fastest if we were to arrive (together) for the victory,” he said. Stuyvens had ditched his fellow escapees with 8.5km left but he came a cropper on the final climb to the finish. “I could keep a good pace in the first part of the climb but I felt empty in the steep part,” he said. “It’s a good thing I have at least the polkadot jersey, even though I’m not really a climber. “It’s a nice jersey to have but my legs will hurt tomorrow.”