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Today we saw a rare spectacle in pro cycling. An unspoken gentleman’s agreement between everyone in the peloton to sit up and neutralize the finish.
In today’s stage the ASO included the narrow descent of the Stockeu where 60-70 riders went down. It looked as if there was oil on the road as even the team mechanics running around were slipping and sliding all over as if it were ice. Bikes and motorcycles were littered all over the road.
Sylvain Chavanel along with 8 others (including Matty Lloyd who was fighting for KOM points) escaped early on in the race. Chavanel emerged from the group of 8 as the lone rider to cross the finish line nearly 4 minutes ahead of the peloton. The rest of the peloton were in agreement to wait up for the others who crashed and made no effort to chase down Chavanel in the final kilometers. No one was willing to profit from the misfortunes of others in this instance.
Many of the riders blame the ASO for including such a dangerous section of road in the early stages of the TdF. Chris Horner said on cyclingnews:
“They put on a dangerous stage and so when they put it on like that, that’s the result they’ll get,” Horner told Cyclingnews. “They got all their drama on the descent and they lost it all at the finish and they got what they deserved. The only thing more stupid about this stage is the pro cycling federation and Cedric Vasseur for ever letting a stage like this exist in the first place. There’s no place in the Tour de France for a stage like this.”
Thor Hushovd has a very different opinion:
“What happened is not normal,” Hushovd said on the phone. “I’m very sorry for the riders who crashed. It was a big mess. But yet, this is still a bike race. Crashes happen all the time. It’s been a really big mistake from ASO and the UCI commissaires to agree to neutralise the end of the stage. The Tour de France is a big, big race. Things like that shouldn’t happen. Why should Cancellara decide? “I’ve been riding all day for the stage win and the green jersey and I end up with nothing,” “This is not fair. Will the same thing happen tomorrow? Will the times for GC be taken before the pavés sections? If Alberto Contador or another big rider crashes tomorrow on the cobblestones, he’s entitled to ask for the race to be neutralised too! So when will we race, really?””
What do you think? The ASO wants to put on a spectacle for the viewers with challenging descents and difficult terrain. Is it right that they endanger the riders in order to make a more exciting race? I’m afraid I’m with Hushovd on this one. It’s a dangerous sport where risks are taken all the time. It’s part of the game.
OzCycling.com has some excellent interviews with Cadel’s, Jens’, and Bjarne Riis’ thoughts on the stage and what exactly went down:
Yesterday’s Wattbike CyclingTips kit prize goes to Robert Mcglinn. Please get in touch with me and provide your shipping details and sizing (cyclingtips at gmail dot com)
Yesterday’s Trivia Answers:
1. Alan Peiper, the Directeur Sportif for Team Columbia High Road and rode 5 Tour de France’s as well as winning a stage of both the Tour De France and Giro d’Italia was originally a member of the Hawthorn Cycling Club in Melbourne.
2. Neil Stephens won €38,000, his bodyweight in cheese and a bike made of chocolate for his stage win in 1997.
3. Skil-Shimano had the lowest budget in the 2009 TdF with €3million
Thanks to our trivia master, Sam
Today’s quiz prize is brought to you by <C-4> Bicycle Components. They will be giving away one set of titanium skewers (weighing only 54.5g for the pair) to anyone in Australia who can answer these trivia questions or give some insight/opinion to today’s stage.
In which Ardennes Classic is the decent of the Stockeu also featured in?
2. Amstel Gold Race
3. La Flèche Wallonne
Q. On average, how many crashes do riders encounter throughout an entire Tour de France?
Q. What is the ruling for the riders who crash within 3 kms of a flat stage finish?
a. They are given the same time as those they were riding with (usually the peloton)
b. They get the winner’s time plus 3 minutes
c. They are disqualified unless they cross the line