In what has quickly become the craziest Tour de France in recent memory, the drama continues as favorite Alberto Contador has been forced to abandon the Tour due to injury.
Midway through the climb of the Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles stage, Contador went down in a crash after his bike literally snapped in half. His frame came apart, he went down, and was on the side of the road being attended to by medical staff. After a short attempt to climb, he unclipped from his pedals, moved to the side, and was loaded into the Tinkoff-Saxo team car, officially abandoning the Tour.
This comes right after defending champion Chris Froome was forced to abandon last week after injury. Froome’s exit handed Contador a green light to take over the Tour as the favorite. At this point, it’s anyone’s race. The quick reaction is to label Astana rider, Italian Vincenzo Nibali as the favorite — which is hasty at best.
Nibali and Astana don’t have the organization and grit to take on the rest of the field. They might be able to take a symbolic swing at BMC or Cannondale Pro Cycling, but history shows that Astana has never been able to remain organized enough to achieve anything.
In all reality, Contador’s exit opens up the race for one person: Tejay Van Garderen.
While it’s been a rough race for the American favorite, there’s nothing stopping him at this point. Who is he going to climb against? The two best climbers in the world have abandoned. Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel don’t have the chops to take a run at GC. Van Garderen also has some of the best lead-out men around on his team. Why not Van Garderen?
With so many crashes claiming top riders, the Tour has taken on an ugly face which sees riders really just wanting to complete the race. But with Contador and Froome out of the race, it’s time for Van Garderen and BMC to step into the spotlight.