Having been through two knee surgeries, with the second coming from an overuse injury aggravated by years of racing, I can tell you just how painful even the easiest ride can be with an injured knee. With that said I never raced the Tour de France, and the pressure for a former champion to continue is immense, but...after today's comments by Contador, we may have gotten the first hint that Paris will not be in his future, at least this year.
What he said:
"I'm a bit bothered with my knee."
"I fell on my same knee that I hurt when I crashed the previous times."
"Im actually quite worried because I have pain in that knee. I thought it was bad at first, but it got worse as the race went on."
I may be making more of this than there is, but Contador is not the same Pistolero he has been in previous tours. Gone is the swagger. and his will sapping attacks that leave the other GC contenders shaking their heads, and it may or may not be the knee.
More likely it is the Giro win on an incredibly challenging course that has taken that little extra out of his legs, but we will know soon if it's a rouse to lull his competitors to sleep, or if he really is diminished by the three crashes in this years Tour.
He just does not look like the same old Contador who just wins.
We are not talking about an Eddy Merckx, Lance Armstrong, or Bernard Hinault- type rider here who stamps his authority on the race. Contador has been unbeatable in Grand Tours until now, but he has never been the Boss, and if today's perceived run in with Karpets says anything about his position within the peloton, it is that he is not the Boss.
But back to the knee. By commenting on the injury in more than a "no big deal" way, he could be paving the way for his early exit. Don't think for a second Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans have not heard the comments. Oh they heard all right.
Only time will tell, and Mondays rest day comments may give us a better idea of just where Contador's Tour is headed...