|9. Asturias 2004
“Our passage on earth is only transitional; we are nothing,
but it’s okay this way.”
On May 12, 2004, an ambitious young man set out on the first
stage of the Vuelta a Asturias. Although eager to complete important
preparation for the Tour de France, he hadn’t felt well for several
days, and was experiencing severe headaches. Facing 174 kilometers of
cold and rain, he bundled up, got on the bike and started to pedal.
That day, somewhere between Oviedo and Llanes, an event occurred
that would nearly end his life.
“On that day I was chatting with the sports manager and we
didn’t know if I would do the stage or not. I really wanted to
start because the Vuelta a Asturias is just prior to the Tour de France,
and I knew that it was fundamental to arrive there in good shape.
I decided to leave and after 30 kilometers I started to feel
bad, and after 40 kilometers—the whole team was leading the pack—I
suddenly started to fall, I was told that my eyes rolled upwards, and
finally I started to have convulsions on the bike and soon fell to the
Alberto Contador was suffering from a congenital vascular disorder
known as a cavernoma. Cavernomas cause bleeding in the brain and can
lead to hemorraghic stroke. In the hands of a skillful neurosurgeon,
they can be repaired.
In Alberto’s case, a dangerous surgery and hours of anesthesia
couldn’t keep him from dreaming that he was riding in the Tour de France.
Within three hours of awakening from surgery, he proved that even severe
brain trauma hadn’t shaken his focus. His first words to his parents:
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“My mother heard this many times. We quarreled on this subject.
I know there are things that are impossible, but if you do everything
you can to get them, you have a better chance to reach your goal.”
“The Asturias accident is not even a bad memory for me… when
I saw the images on TV, I had the impression that our passage on earth
is only transitional, that we are nothing, that it’s okay this way
and that suddenly you can be struck with a fatal misfortune.
The experience made me mature a lot. You start to see things
from another point of view. You realize that cycling as well as life
depends on many things.”
Alberto before Paris-Nice, 2007
Copyright © Christine Kahane
|Race Report, Stage 9
"My attack was worth it, because big favorites lost several
Alberto Contador earned the white jersey for best young rider
today. He conquered the Galibier and took 5th place in the GC, a hefty
reward for his spectacular attack 5 km from the summit.
He said the strategy of the day was foreseen in part. “It’s
true that we were looking for a stage win with Gusev, Hincapie, or Popovych,
but I was a little surprised that nobody moved on the Galibier. I expected
to see Moreau and Mayo try it, and when that didn’t happen, I decided
to attack with 5 km left. We ran into a headwind in the last 40 km, so
it didn’t work out, but we put on a good show.”
Certainly, Contador would have preferred that “we weren’t caught
by the leader’s group, but I’m convinced we profited by our maneuver.
You never know what can happen in the Tour. Those that lost time today
could force me to lose it later.”
Contador knew that his efforts were worthwhile. “Today there
have been big favorites who lost several minutes in the GC, like Schleck,
Kashechkin, Vinokourov, and Menchov. Also, I wanted to give it a go.
Besides, among all of us, we have to try to create some excitement.”
The Alps are history now in the Tour 2007, so Contador is starting
to think about what will happen in the Pyrenees. “The first thing is
to see what’s left of the GC after the time trial, and who takes yellow,
because if the new leader is Evans, for example, the race will change.
Anyway, it’s certain that the Pyrenees will be action-packed, and every
About the race favorites, Alberto said that “now the group
is more closed, with people who are separated by gaps. We will all
meet again in the Pyrenees, which will be a different story from the
Alberto’s results today:
Stage 9 4th 0:40
Young rider 2nd 0:40
Young rider 1st