One thing missing from the debate over Andy Schleck’s chain and Alberto Contador’s acceleration is that we’re not looking at it from their point of view. With two motorbikes and a helicopter covering the group of favourites, TV viewers have the perspective that a rider lacks.
Whilst we can see everything that is going on whilst sat in front of a screen, a rider cannot. Indeed we get replays as well, offering instant hindsigh. Contador might have seen Shleck had lost his chain but that doesn’t mean he has to slam on the brakes and surrender precious momentum.
Viewers watched Schleck lose time by trying to pedal the chain back on, then finally dismounting and using his hands. But none of this would be visible to Contador. It would not even have come over the radio too as even the following cars didn’t see the event. The Saxo mechanic didn’t appear, the yellow jersey needed a push from fans.
I think Contador rode reasonably, French TV commentator Laurent Jalabert – speaking live from a motorbike on the race – said Contador looked visibly “embarrassed” and was only taking turns on the front out “out of politeness”. So whilst Contador took time, he could have taken more if he really wanted it.