Posted by Editor on 07/5/10
The Tour saw utter chaos today in stage two from Brussels to Spa, after rain-slicked roads caused multiple crashes on a narrow and twisting descent of the Stockeu as the race approached the finish. One rider, Sylvain Chavanel of Quick Step, was away, and as the peloton slowed, with teams looking frantically for their team leaders, his lead grew and grew, enough to put him into the leader's Yellow jersey and the Points jersey. Race organizers decided not to award finish-line points, with the lone exception of Chavanel.
Once the peloton began to get organized, the current Yellow jersey, Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), was busy organizing a 'go-slow' move, that allowed others to catch up and effectively led to Chavanel's win. Many riders did not agree with the protest, particularly Cervélo's Thor Hushovd, who commented "I feel frustrated by what happened today. Our team was working hard and we would have had a good chance for victory. I feel like they have taken something away from us today. There were a few sprinters who did not make it to the front group, but there was no reason to not contest the sprint today. Everyone made a gentleman's agreement not to sprint, but I lost an important opportunity to try to win the stage and gain points."
"If the crash wasn't there, I am 100 percent sure that there would have been a sprint and Thor would have been a big favorite. What the other teams decide to do, that’s their problem. It doesn't matter what they want or not want, our guys are really motivated," said Cervélo sport director Jean-Paul van Poppel. "The group decided not to sprint for the points, and Thor was really upset about that. It ended up badly because of the crash. Otherwise it could have been the flowers and maybe the champagne."
Garmin-Transitions was the worst hit by the crashes, with team leader Christian Vande Velde losing nearly ten minutes, and subsequently having to drop out with broken ribs. Tyler Farrar, David Millar, Julian Dean and Robbie Hunter also went down from the team, with farrar sustaining a broken wrist and millar a possible broken rib. All except Vande Velde are slated to start stage three. For the team this is a huge blow, to lose their leader, a rider who has finished just of the podium in the past. however, it brings up the interesting possibility of Canada's Ryder Hesjedal stepping into the leadership role, after previous strong showings in the mountains, and comments (below) suggest he could be supported in moves to go for stage wins...
Others who went down include Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre Farnese), the Green jersey holder and overall contenderAndy Schleck (Saxo Bank), who initially appeared to have serious injuries.
The Tour continues Tuesday with the much-anticipated 213 kilometre third stage from Wanze to Arenberg du Hainaut. The Tour returns to French roads for the first time this year with an important stage that features seven sections of bumpy cobblestoned roads, many of which have been used in the Paris-Roubaix classic.
Comments from the Garmin-Transition team:
Jonathan Vaughters, CEO, Director Sportif
Clearly, this will mean a change in the general strategy for Team Garmin-Transitions. We will focus on the multitude of talented riders we have on this team. We'll be looking for stage wins and ways to animate the race. I'm proud of the ride our team did today. Despite injury and conditions, they pushed through, and all nine finished the race. We've lost Christian, and we're all sad about that. He's had a tough season and has preserved and pushed himself like few other athletes could. Tomorrow is going to be painful for Tyler. He's got significant injuries, so starting alone is a huge step, and from there we'll have to see how he goes. But regardless, a good, strong team remains at this Tour and we'll be a part of the action throughout.
Christian Vande Velde
I crashed once right before the Stockeu. Riders crashed in front of me and I wasn't able to avoid them, so I went down. We all knew it was important to be at the front over the climb and at that point, I felt ok and got back on and made it back to the front to get up Stockeu. Then another rider lost control in front of me and again, I couldn't avoid it. I crashed and landed in a ditch. I'm not sure what I hit; I think it might have been a pole. At that point my eye was bleeding pretty badly and the pain in my side and my back was excruciating. I got back on the bike though, and was coming back with Andy Schleck. I tried to stay with that group, but the pain was too much and I couldn't get out of the saddle to make it back on.
No one wants to leave the Tour de France. I worked really hard to get myself ready to be here again [after a broken collarbone at the Giro] and I was just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm indescribably disappointed to not be starting tomorrow. I wish everyone luck - my team and all the other riders at this Tour de France. I don't ever want to have to see another day like today, whether I'm in the race or not.
One minute I was riding down the descent and the next minute I was sliding. That was the first crash. I got back up and started descending again and I have no idea what happened; all of the sudden my front wheel was gone and I was on the ground again. That's the one where I knew something was very wrong. I rode the last 30k with one hand. I laid my left hand on the handlebars but that's all I could do. I have a fracture in my wrist and banged up my elbow pretty badly. No one wants to quit the Tour de France, so you'll push yourself a lot more through the pain than you will in any other bike race in the world. I'm determined to start tomorrow and as of this moment, that's the plan.
Today was definitely in my top five worst days on a bike, ever, and that's a big cull considering the length of my career. My first crash was a simple race incident where Christian, Julian and myself were well positioned at the front, but someone in front of us lost control before the Stockeu. This didn't bother me, I just lost some skin on my left side, but it made me more diligent to be at the front at the Stockeu. Whitey [Manager Matt White] kept reminding us to be at the front over the top to avoid crashes, and that's where we were even after the chase of the previous crash. Within only 200 meters of cresting I could see Lance [Armstrong] fall about 10 places in front of me on a straight road. When I saw that happen I knew something wasn’t right - and that was immediately followed by my wheels disappearing from under me and my sliding across the ground. As I came to a standstill, Christian passed and asked if I was all right, to which I replied yes and got right back on my bike. At this point there were guys everywhere on the ground all around me.
Only 200 meters after getting back on my bike I was faced with a Cofidis rider losing control in front of me. There was nothing I could do and I hit him and somersaulted over my handlebars, landing heavily on my ribs in a ditch, thinking this time, I wasn't fine. I got up and fixed my bike myself, and then I tip toed down the descent surveying the absolute carnage that was the Tour de France peloton and wondering what was going on. By this point I had no idea where Christian or anyone else was and had to concentrate on getting back to the front of the race. I got back, finished and waited in the bus to hear about the rest of my teammates. I'm very proud of the fact that all of us finished considering the disparity of some of our injuries. It reflects why our team is what it is, and why I love it.
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