Surf Photography at its best

Way back in 1960, Surfer Magazine founder John Severson ran a photo of a lone surfer paddling out, with these hopeful words: “”In this crowded world, the surfer can still seek and find the perfect day, the perfect wave, and be alone with the surf and his thoughts.” This world has increased in size from just over 3 billion people in 1960, to more than 7 billion. The world’s oceans and beaches are feeling the effects of that population, but it’s still possible to accomplish the solitude that Severson wrote about a half a century ago.

lucia in her element
lucia in her element
between times
between times
a great duck dive - winner of awards
a great duck dive – winner of awards
Doing whatever it takes to get over the top
Doing whatever it takes to get over the top

Here are images from the very talented multi-award winning photographer Lucia Griggi whose office is the ocean and who is one of the most respected surf photographers in a male dominated industry.

he stole my helmet (and then sent it back)

Here’s a unique view of part of stage three of the Tour de France, as the race wound its way through the Epping Forest on the way to a sprint finish in the Mall. Europcar’s Kévin Réza was involved in the shake-down that day, leading out Bryan Cocquard to a fourth-place finish, but he found time for a bit of fun along the way too.

After a spectator’s helmet camera had been knocked to the ground by a ‘whoopsie’ elbow from Lotto-Belisol’s Marcel Sieberg – we’ll steer away from the debate on whether the fan was too close or Sieberg’s elbow was unneccesary for now – Réza managed to pick the helmet, complete with camera, up from the ground as he raced past. He clearly doesn’t stop or even noticeably slow down, so it’s a pretty neat trick. There’s general hilarity in the peloton thanks to Réza’s find – Chris Horner seems particularly impressed – before Réza radios back to the car and drops it off.

And how did the unlucky (or lucky, depending on your point of view) fan get the camera back? “My girlfriend sent Kevin a message via twitter asking if he still had the helmet”, he says in the comments on the video. “He replied and then he posted the helmet back to me! What a legend.”

Team Europecar pro cyclist Kevin Reza pickes up my helmet camera after a unknown team lotto rider elbows it out of my hand

Vintage cycling footage


BFI film

Bless the BFI. The nation’s repository for vintage films has done a fine job with the inclusion of these two pieces of cycling history. ‘Holiday cycling at Herne Hill’ (pictured above), is from the annual Good Friday event in 1924, which often saw crowds of over 10,000 cycling fans packed into the velodrome. What is particularly interesting – for a cycle nerd like me – is the good technique on show. Watch the first two riders spin efficiently whilst minimising their upper body movement. Remember – no clipless pedals back then.

The second film  – Cyclists Special – is all about travelling around Britiain by bicycle with the aid of our formally great – to those of us with romantic notions and memories – British Rail. An excursion train equipped with cycle vans – take note rail operators! –  takes a party of cyclists and their machines from Willesden and Watford…

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Commonwealth Games MTB XC race

some of the technical sections on the course - looks so easy from the tv footage
some of the technical sections on the course – looks so easy from the tv footage

Shot out from home and cycled down to Cathkin Braes after watching Philip Buys shoot off the start line in Lap 1 (supporting South Africa you see) to watch the second half of the mens race.

Screenshot 2014-07-30 00.11.10

Took one set of snaps of the leaders before my phone died ….

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what is worse is that my pics are on the flattest most boring part of the course …..

I am in the blue jacket just to the right of the riders in this aerial tv shot
I am in the blue jacket just to the right of the riders in this aerial tv shot

the guys were flying along – I did the lap in 20min in the past and think these guys did it in 13min – the end was spectacular with a surprise sprint that no one could respond to …



Teenager Anton Cooper secured a first mountain biking gold medal for New Zealand in an exciting finish to the cross-country race.

Cooper, 19, beat team-mate Samuel Gaze, 18, into second in a sprint finish with Australian Daniel McConnell in third.

Scotland’s Grant Ferguson, 20, finished fifth with England’s 2006 winner Liam Killeen in sixth.

In the men’s race, only 10 seconds separated the first three riders, who dropped Max Plaxton of Canada on the seventh and final lap.


Suunto Core Alu

Although I have a Garmin Fenix I use for running and kitesurfing, i also have a suunto core which I love. but the first edition Core has had it’s issues the latest being battery problems so I have sent it back to Suunto.

(within six months it had munched its first battery, three months later it had got through two others so I pretty much forgot about it. Last month I sent it back to Finland under warranty, and two weeks later I got a refurb back (was made a month earlier than the one I sent in.)

This one lasted a week before exhibiting the same problems as my original one (blank display, no life) so it’s currently back in Finland again.

I’ve heard good things about the late 9xxx serials, and the 0x serials, so check before you buy – if it’s a 7xxx or 8xxx serial number, even an early 9xxx (try to buy later than 930x) then walk away.

Serials are Year, Week, 5 digit serial – a eg 949xxxxx is week 49, 2009.)


In the meantime i have a Suunto Core Black Alu to enjoy. Get yours here – if you buy one I get a whopping few pence as a thank you

Screenshot 2014-07-29 23.05.43

Same Spec but nicer build

Suunto Core Alu watch, which comes in a variety of finishes, is a soup to nuts watch, though keep in mind it lacks GPS.  That short coming aside, it can measure the air’s temperature and tell if you’re heading in the correct direction thanks to the digital compass, which mind you automatically calibrates itself according to your surroundings.   In addition to that, there is an automatic altimeter/barometer switch, storm alarm with a weather trend indicator, altitude logger with altitude difference measurement, multiple date/watch/alarm functions, sunrise/sunset times for 400 locations, multiple language support, a user replaceable battery and a few different straps to choose from.

Kittel doubles up and Nibali wins the tour

Vincenzo Nibali is the winner of the 101st Tour de France, a race he led for eighteen days out of twenty-one. It’s also the big return of French riders on the final podium with Jean-Christophe Péraud and Thibaut Pinot second and third respectively. The last stage on the Champs-Elysées went to Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) just like last year. The German outsprinted Alexander Kristoff in a spectacular final sprint on the Champs-Elysées.

The traditional walk in the park

All the way from Evry to Paris, the 164 riders left in the peloton cruised at about 32km/h. The Maillot Jaune Vincenzo Nibali shared some Champagne with his team-mates from Astana. The tradition was respected.

Jens Voigt’s farewell

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) was the first attacker as the race really started on the Champs-Elysées. Jens Voigt (Trek) was the next one and it look like a lap of honour for the soon-to-be retired rider at the age of 43. The German veteran won the last intermediate sprint of his last Tour de France, after which a crash occurred in the peloton. Runner up Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R-La Mondiale) slipped in a curve and a got fright with 43km to go. With the help of three team-mates, he made his way back to the pack five kilometres further. Four riders took the lead with 36km to go: Richie Porte (Sky), Michael Morkov (Tinkoff), José Serpa (Lampre) and Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne).

Kittel makes it four

Porte, Morkov and Serpa insisted as long as they could. Porte was the last member of this breakaway to be caught, with 7.5km to go. His compatriot Simon Clarke (Orica) was the last man to try to escape 5km before the end. But the inevitable bunch gallop saw the domination of Giant-Shimano in the lead out. Marcel Kittel emerged as the winner of stage 21, adding one success to the three he took in the first week of the Tour. Seven stages out of twenty-one have been won by German riders. Peter Sagan crossed the line in ninth position, therefore beating his record of points in the race for the green jersey. The Slovakian champion won the points classification for the third time in a row.

Bring on next year

eating on the bike – for cheap

from the active strand

Cycling is an expensive hobby. Fork out the ludicrous cover price for a dedicated road cycling magazine and you can see in all its glossy glory the kind of money people are willing to spend on two wheels. I’m not sure how it happened, but “entry level bikes for under £1,000” is considered bargain hunting. And that’s before you’ve taken things like cages, bottles, shoes, bibs, jerseys, gloves, and helmets into account.

The high-carb cherry on top of this debt-denting sundae? Nutrition.

As the Tour de France gets underway, cyclists across the land are likely to be suckered into the glamour of four hour rides through the country. Given that any endurance athlete needs to refuel every 60 minutes or so, that’s going to mean taking on a substantial amount of food during the ride. Over the course of a season, you can spend hundreds on speciality carbohydrate bars, caffeine gels, isotonic drinks, protein recovery and more.

For the budget-conscious, here are five cost-cutting alternatives.

1. Dioralyte

Even the shortest rides require you keep hydrated, and there is no end to sports drinks and powder mixes on offer for the cash rich cyclist. But if you’re trying to save money on a long sportive, use Dioralyte.

The sachets of powder are designed to replace salts and nutrients lost through illness, but they’re packed full of exactly the same goodness (glucose and minerals) that you sweat away while cycling. Six sachets will cost you a little over £3.50 at Boots, but an even better option is the pharmacy’s own brand, which is almost identical and costs £2.99.

By comparrison, a single packet of Torq or High5 energy mix will cost you more than £1. Nuun hydration tablets are coming down in price all the time, but they will still cost you more than the Boots mix in most cycling shops.

A bonus tip: Dioralyte have introduced a new product called Relief, which combines the rehydration qualities of the original with rice starch. That starch adds about about 6 grams of carbohydrate per sachet, and carbs are always welcome (see point three). They’re slightly more expensive at £4 for six, however.

The worst thing about using Dioralyte instead of your usual electrolyte-heavy sports powder? The taste, obviously. Their ‘blackcurrant’ flavour, for example, brings to mind memories of diarrhea rather than blackcurrent. Add a drop of cordial into the mix to expunge.

2. Coca Cola

If you can’t help but buy a premade sports drink like Gatorade or Lucozade, there’s a suprising and cheaper alternative. Coca-Cola, which is high in sugar, salts, carbohydrates and caffeine, basically offers the go-to mix for long rides. A Lucozade Sport costs around £1.20 and a Gotorade is £1.75, but a similar sized bottle of Coke is £1.15. The real saving comes with the bulkier buys, though. You can get nearly 2 litres of Coca-Cola for less than £2.

Fizzy drinks don’t sit well while you’re exercising, so the experts suggest you leave it to go flat – in the fridge with the lid off – before taking it on the road. Alternatively, buy a can during a drinks stop, pour it into a glass, and swirl with a spoon until the fizz leaves.

I’ve had mixed results with this. It works for a quick hit but, even more than the Dioralyte, taste is a significant issue. The sugary mixture can also gum up your water bottle.

3. Marzipan

A stick of marzipan

Carbohydrates are the lifeblood of any cyclist. The main sports nutrition companies offer a myriad of carb bars that vary in quality and price.

My favourite, the SiS GO bar, is £1.20 for each 65g hit (on long rides, I find I can easily put away two or more). Each bar boasts more than 40g of carbohydrates – but there are plenty of supermarket alternatives at a fraction of the price.

Marzipan may be better associated with Christmas cakes, but the almond treat is also surprisingly high in carbohydrate. One 40g bar has 26 grams of carbs, which easily competes with the top-tier alternatives. And you can get a pack of five, chocolate-covered, from Aldi for £1.30.

They have the added bonus of being delicious.

4. Potato farls

Potato farls

If sweetness isn’t your thing, Irish potato farls are another good and cheap source of carbohydrates while out on long rides.

Otherwise known as potato cakes, you can pick up a pack of six from Tesco for 50p and each one contains around 20g of carbs. Toast two before your ride, spread on some butter and sandwich them in foil.

They’re quite dense so can be broken up without too many crumbs and eaten without stopping, and they can be salty, which makes a nice change from the fructose overload associated with most sports nutrition.

5. Honey

Energy gels are the in vogue sports nutrition, and for good reason. They are easy to consume and deliver results quickly, offering many a rider last-minute salvation from the dreaded bonk. But they are also expensive. SiS, Torq and High5 gels can cost up to £2.30 each.

Enter honey. According to a decade old University of Memphis study, which has started to resurface on sports blogs, honey is a natural sports gel. The double-blind test gave groups of cyclists a placebo, a manufactured carbohydrate gel or honey, and the results were staggering.

The riders who used the honey finished the 40-mile time trial on average three minutes quicker than those who took the placebo, and just seconds behind those on the tailor-made gel, and they did it with a lower heart rate. The reason is that honey contains a mix of easily absorbed sugars and – in every teaspoon – about 17g of carbohydrate.

The main problem? Figuring out how to transport it.

Surf Rage and the Rugby Tackle

When Tom Thimpson suffered a horrendous drop-in he reacted in a fashion people might call extreme. We will endeavour to find out what happened a couple of seconds after this mid-face rugby tackle.

“It’s all happened to us before, you’re out surfing, enjoying a good session with just you and your mates.” Writes Tim on Vimeo “Then you suddenly get that sinking feeling as you see 10 people pile out into the lineup, all at once, heading for you like a homing missile. Oh well, it was bound to happen at some point, so you just smile, wait your turn and try enjoy the remainder of you’re session.

“This would work except the newcomers have a different attitude, continuous snaking, consecutive drop-ins and generally bad attitudes would make you think you have entered into a WQS final. As luck would have it, one particular homing missile decided to head my way to fade me for the third consecutive time, let’s just say my exit off the wave was either poorly timed or perfectly executed, depending on how you look at the situation.”

The moral of the story? Don’t drop in. Be respectful and earn acceptance. Sadly by including the line: “Brazilian’s play soccer – Kiwi’s play rugby.” It is sure to incite a whole lot of jingoistic nationalism. Please take those country stereotypes and hang them in a dark cupboard where they belong.

eTape Pennines 2014 – brutal but a day or two later and I am enjoying it more.

Well I entered the eTape Pennines as a way into the eTape Caledonia which is always oversubscribed – tickets are never available but i like many others entered the double just to get a place. I loved the Scottish event and was looking forward to this one but it is a very different race.

Event Summary

The Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines, England’s first closed road sportive, quickly established itself as one of the toughest sportives in the UK following its debut in 2012. Starting and finishing in County Durham, the 60 mile course takes riders through the ruggedly undulating North East scenery.

With over 2,000 metres of climbing to overcome, it’s certainly a challenging ride, but with panoramic views and speedy downhill sections to look forward to, your hard work is duly rewarded. Cycling Plus took part in the 2012 event and said “Beautiful but brutal, the Etape Pennines has the makings of a classic”.

Located in a busy market town, Barnard Castle provides the dramatic backdrop for the start of this year’s Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines. Upon setting off, riders will soon find themselves riding through the stunning rolling countryside at Middleton in Teesdale, which will warm the legs nicely in preparation for the challenging section which awaits.

Following the completion of this uphill section you will be rewarded with a thrilling downhill section into St John’s Chapel. Use this descent as an opportunity to catch your breath and rest your legs, as before long you will be in scaling yet more climbs in Blanchland, home of the iconic moorland Etape Pennines has become renowned for.

From here you drop down Crawleyside Bank into the town of Stanhope and then climb to the top of Bollihope Common where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views across the dales before going back down to Egglestone and into Barnard Castle to collect your medal.

Well the ride down was good and we watched the weather with a keen eye as the earlier in the week forecasts of torrential stormy armageddon gave way to the possibility of a nice even sunny ride. Organisationally it was quite good – the big bugbear being the parking. We turned up in the camper only to be turned away and told that it opened at 4:30am. So we drove around looking for camper parking and not finding any and had to spend the night in an industrial estate with some chavs playing dance music and kicking a football around post pub kick out until 2am ….. aaargh not what i needed when we were going to be up at 5am.

2014-07-20 12.53.49

Then it was race time

2014-07-20 12.19.56

Unlike the eTape Caledonia there was nobody in the ride to work with – well maybe the early group had a peleton but our later start certainly didn’t ….. and I think the course although shortened seems to have been shortened at the expense of flat sections where a group might start working together. For the first part of the ride, my friend Jim and I seemed to be pulling along 2 or 3 other guys who either hadn’t cycled in groups before or had not worried about the etiquette of sharing.

the route
the route

I found the route quite brutal in that it was impossible for me to build up a proper rhythm – it seems to be difficult up and then steep down for most of the race. The bonus being that I hit a top speed of over 52 mph which is a max for me.

Garmin Connect Stats
Garmin Connect Stats
Strava stats
Strava stats

slight difference in top speed between the sites – so best go with the higher one then.

We managed to lose tom at the start of a KOM section, but we knew he might fall back. But a sudden section that lurched left and up which was damp (or some say had spilt diesel) meant i wheel spun and had to step off on the 20%+ slope walk up 20 foot and get back on. Jim in the meantime had gone on so when i got to the first pit stop i stopped hoping he would be there. He wasn’t so I quickly got a refill – the sun was out and already 20 degrees, and then started going again.

It was on a long climb as i crested that i suddenly found myself catching up so we had only been separated for 5 miles or so. We cycled the rest of the way together (we are pretty evenly matched – he ascends and descends faster and i was better on the less steep gradients)

At the very end 10 miles from the finish he stopped to fill a bottle so i carried on thinking he would catch up …. but he never closed the distance and finished a paltry 1m40s behind me. Tom at this stage was still 10 miles out ….

results for us 3
results for us 3

the stats for the KOM and a sprint section (but why place it right after a climb??)

2014-07-20 12.19.05


and a bad photo I haven’t bought

Jim left - me right
Jim left – me right


So would we do it again? well maybe

what a great day

god I just love kitesurfing …. there it is

belhaven Dunbar
belhaven Dunbar




other guy
other guy
roll transition
roll transition
slam the waves
slam the waves
beach jumping
beach jumping
look at the small people down there
look at the small people down there
getting some water out the wetsuit ... no pee
getting some water out the wetsuit … no pee
jumping on starboard not my favourite
jumping on starboard not my favourite
go go
go go

Would you spend £12k on a bike and would it help

I am too purist and into my ti and steel to do so (and broke as a matter of fact) but here is an interesting article in the ‘tory’graph about what it can do for you …


In 1963 German sports car maker Porsche introduced a radical new car that would famously become a firm favourite of racing car drivers on their days off. In the hands of a skilled driver the rear-engined, turbocharged 911 was a snarling, all conquering testament to raw power and German engineering.

However, in the hands of a normal punter, the Porsche morphed into something all together more sinister. Its brutal power, delivered in staccato by the revolutionary air-cooled engine, and race car handling had a habit of tempting drivers into pushing the limits of their ability. By the end of the 1970s, the 911 had earned the nickname ‘The Widow Maker’. Not that Porsche flinched from selling it – instead, the car’s reputation for danger only added to its appeal among those with enough money to buy the iconic car.

A Porsche 911 GT3

Which brings me to the Pinarello Dogma F8 bicycle, the official bike of Chris Froome’s Team Sky, designed in conjunction with British sports car maker Jaguar. The bicycle, equipped with the latest electronic Shimano Di2 gear system and lightweight wheels, sets you back as much as £12,000 – which is almost enough to buy a second-hand widow maker.

Like the Porsche, the F8 boasts a design that doesn’t conform to conventional theory. I took the version I have been riding to The Bicycle Academy in Frome for their frame building experts to take a look. Their verdict on the bike’s aesthetic was mixed. Pinarello has pioneered a concept of distinctive asymmetric design on the Dogma range. Couple this with some of the touches provided by Jaguar to improve the overall aerodynamic performance of the bike and you have a very radical looking machine. It’s certainly not one for the purists.

Just like the early buyers of the Porsche 911, people interested in the F8 who aren’t racing seriously or being paid to ride a bike must ask themselves whether they actually need such a two-wheeled beast. That being said, high-end design and hi-tech specifications can always be guaranteed to pique the interest of even the most amateur of club cyclists. To test the bike out, I decided to take it on my usual short 17-mile circuit around Box Hill in Surrey. From the first pedal stroke, I was genuinely surprised by its performance.

Andrew Critchlow’s Strava display after riding a 17 mile circuit around Box Hill

The bladed forks and reduced profile of the head tube (the focus of much of Jaguar’s design energy) deliver a stunningly fast bike – reducing drag by a claimed 40pc. Power transfer through the pedals is also incredible, as are the electronic shifters, which make for breathtakingly quick gear changes.

Quite simply, the F8 makes you want to ride faster. During my test, the bike immediately had me riding in the big chain ring, at least three gears higher than I would normally spin. I was able to hold the big ring even on the slopes of Box Hill. However, it was on the decent that the F8 showed its true colours. This bike makes you try things that you really shouldn’t on a bicycle. It’s constantly compelling you to ride faster, brake later into the corners, push the boundaries of your cycling ability and even beat the lights. On the descent from Box Hill I almost lost it. Could this be the bicycle equivalent of The Widow Maker?

Not quite. The F8 is assured and – unlike some carbon-fibre bikes I have ridden such as the Giant TCR Advanced SL – its handling is predictable. As a result, you can comfortably ride the bike faster than you would normally think possible. The proof in the pudding comes when I download my ride data at the end of the circuit. Clipped in to the F8, I have knocked 7 minutes off my time and achieved 63 personal records on Strava.

The downside of the F8 for a normal rider like me who isn’t followed around Europe with a Team Sky bus is maintenance. This bike needs looking after properly by expert bicycle mechanics, so forget about tampering in the kitchen with a set of hexagon keys. Also be careful about frame size. I am six-foot and the bike I tested was a 58cm – my usual frame size – but this was on the large size for my taste.

I have always aspired to owning a 911 because of its potent mix of race car engineering and Niki Lauda cool. My final verdict on the Pinarello is the same. I want one, pure and simple.

A badge of honour …



I am sitting waiting for a neck x-ray wearing my customary shorts looking at my tan lines.

My daughter has a perfect tan. She works at it. She goes to the beach at every opportunity and, she buys minimalist clothing for the occasion. No tan lines. She can wear whatever she likes without fear of a tan line showing.

I, on the other hand, am a cyclist. The only time I am in the sun is on my bike wearing bibs and jersey. I am tanned on my face, hands, forearms and on the legs from just above the knees to the ankles. And, I am dark. The mark of many hours on the saddle. However, the rest of my body is white. Really white.  You don’t want to see me in a bathing suit.

A bikers tan is a badge of honour. A right of passage. Something you must…

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Contador out in stage 10 – another epic stage of the 2014 TdF

So I am running a fantasy team in the TdF on velogames and this year I suck bad picking all the people that are dropping out.

velogames - 3 of my 9 are out already
velogames – 3 of my 9 are out already

Spain’s Alberto Contador crashed heavily during the 10th stage of the Tour de France on Monday and was forced to abandon the race.


the race started with these standings

after stage 9
after stage 9

and ended like this


The double Tour champion spent several minutes being treated by race doctors, blood dripping from his right knee. He got back on his bike and was being helped by his Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates, some four minutes behind the peloton led by main rival Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana team. But having dropped further back the decision was made for Contador to drop out with more than 80km of the stage remaining. His withdrawal comes five days after reigning champion Chris Froome was also forced to abandon.


The action on the Bastille Day stage was expected to ignite on the concluding climb ahead of Tuesday’s rest day, but the Tour lost another leading protagonist after Mark Cavendish’s crash on day one and Froome’s exit.

Contador crashed on the approach to the third of six categorised climbs, the Col du Platzerwasel. The Spaniard received strapping to his right knee and lost four minutes as a result of the delay, falling nine minutes behind the day’s breakaway, which held a five-minute lead on the peloton.

The Astana team of Vincenzo Nibali led the main bunch and did not increase the pace on the 7.1km, category one ascent as Contador’s team-mates dropped back to help him.

Contador began the day in ninth place, four minutes and eight seconds behind Frenchman Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol), who seized the race leader’s yellow jersey from Nibali. But the Spaniard struggled to reduce the arrears in the mist-shrouded Vosges mountains.

The finish at La Planche des Belles Filles was a reminder to Britons of the absent Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Froome won at the summit of the “climb of the beautiful girls” in 2012 as Wiggins took the yellow jersey he held until Paris, when he became the first British winner of the race.


But what happened – did his frame crack causing him to break – that would be something that the big S would really fear. Cannondale for years (in mtb aluminium) had the term CrackAndFail – and it really affected sales. this from velonews

that frame
that frame

Alberto Contador stood on the wet grass, blood pouring out of a deep cut to his right knee. Photographers swirled around him, the race doctor attended to his injuries. He motioned to his mechanic, a hint of frustration etched across his face. He sat down, dejected, and changed out his left shoe, its buckle smashed to pieces.

He’d just crashed on the descent off the Petit Ballon, just the second of the day’s seven major climbs. Rival Vincenzo Nibali cruised up the road, gaining minutes.

Perhaps it was optimism, or adrenaline, but Contador appeared calm, traces of pain just creeping into the edges of his face. He remounted and rode slowly away. Four teammates quickly came back to pace him.

But optimism waned, and adrenaline wore off — the two were certainly connected. 10km later, Contador pulled the plug on this year’s Tour de France. He gave his mechanic a small hug and slumped into the team car.

Confusion surrounded the crash; reports of a smashed bike, visions of exploded carbon, swirled around the press room and out through hundreds of thousands of television sets.

Initial reports on the Tour’s race radio, in French, and by NBC Sports’ Steve Porino, that Contador’s bike was “in pieces,” appear to be correct. “His frame snapped in half. They threw it in a heap in the back of the car,” Porino said, noting that he had arrived shortly after the crash.

Contador’s bike broke in the lower third of his down tube and on the top tube just in front of his seat tube. Both tubes were broken clean through, with just a few fibers holding the two pieces of the frame together.

How those failures occurred, though, is not entirely clear.

Specialized, Tinkoff-Saxo’s bike sponsor, initially denied reports that Contador’s bike had broken at all, either resulting in or as a result of the crash, or via some other externality. The company first stated that a bike had fallen off the roof of a car. That story was then amended — it still involved a car, but instead stated that Nicolas Roche’s bike had been run over earlier in the stage. This broken bike was the start of the rumors, it said.

“We have spoken to Alberto’s brother as well as his personal mechanic (Faustino Muñoz) and the mechanic who was at the scene (Rune Kristensen), and contrary to some early, unconfirmed reports, frame failure was not involved in Alberto’s incident today. Nicolas Roche was involved in a separate incident today and while his bike was laying on the road it was run over by a car causing it to break, potentially giving rise to the initial inaccurate reporting,” the original statement read.

But the photos do not lie. Contador is #31, and his race number is on the broken frame. The Roche incident relayed in this statement may be entirely factual, but it is clear that Contador’s bike broke as well.

Specialized later corrected itself again, stating that Contador’s bike that had been run over. A source within the team who was present at the scene of the crash explained that Contador’s mechanic, Faustino Munoz, grabbed his backup bike off the roof, then, seeing the condition of Contador, rushed to his aid, leaving the bike against the team car. The team car drove off and crushed the bike. Photos were taken, and the broken bike story took off.

An alternative potential explanation is that Contador’s bike broke on impact with a large pothole, or on impact with the ground afterwards.

Contador crashed when he hit a hole in the road, according to representatives from his Tinkoff-Saxo team and riders who were nearby.

Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde said he saw Contador’s bars slip, which caused him to crash. “I saw him [Contador] crash right in front of me. His handlebars slipped when he hit a pothole,” Valverde told Spanish radio. “I realized at the feed zone that he abandoned.”

In the event of a direct impact with a large pothole, a compression fracture of the frame is possible, though it is unlikely to occur near the back of the top tube, where Contador’s bike separated. Contador’s fork or head tube would likely fail first. The top tube would likely fail just behind the head tube. If fractures to Contador’s frame did come from the crash, they are more likely a result of the bike hitting the ground or something on the side of the road than a direct result of the pothole.

The likelihood of Contador’s frame breaking before the crash, causing his crash, is close to zero. Munoz is one of the best mechanics in the world; Contador’s bikes are pampered, and Specialized has, historically, designed reliable carbon fiber frames.

The timeline from the crash onwards:

Contador got onto his second bike after the crash, an S-Works Tarmac with a normal Tinkoff paint job, and without a race number. A brief shot on television showed his mechanic picking up his crashed bike, still apparently in one piece. This could support Specialized’s story, or a few strands of carbon could simply have held the bike together. Without being there, it’s impossible to say.

Contador did not swap bikes onto Roche’s McClaren frame, as initially speculated. Roche finished the stage on his second bike, rather than his McClaren. That would support the notion that Roche’s first bike was also run over.

Whether the frame was broken by a car or a pothole, the result is the same. Contador is out of the Tour de France.