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Crash Upsets Stage Two of Tour de France—Chavanel Wins

For the second day, crashes determine the winner

By James Fish
Epoch Times Staff
Created: July 5, 2010 Last Updated: July 11, 2010
Related articles: Sports » Other
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France's Sylvain Chavanel celebrates on the finish line as he wins Stage Two of the 2010 Tour de France. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

France's Sylvain Chavanel celebrates on the finish line as he wins Stage Two of the 2010 Tour de France. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

After a series of crashes created chaos in Stage One, a huge crash on the narrow wet roads of the descent from the Col de Stockeu brought down a good portion of the peloton in Stage Two, completely changing the nature of the race.

Sylvain Chavanel of Quick Step, led the peloton for 183 km, and was the only rider from an eight-man break to survive to the finish, which earned him stage win and the yellow jersey. He turned in an excellent ride, attacking repeatedly to drop the rest of the break up the short steep hills at the end of the stage.

“I feel many, many emotions today” Chavanel said LeTour.fr. “This was an extremely difficult stage. I had set my sights on this stage beforehand, and I have succeeded. This is really, really fantastic to me.”

Radio Shack rider Levi Leipheimer said simply, “Chapeau [hat’s off] to Chavanel; he was strong, he deserves it.”

Massive Crash

Chavanel surely would not have survived, had not an enormous pileup wiped out the peloton on the Col de Stockeu.

With the gap dropping and the peloton accelerating, Lampre’s Francesco Gavazzi crashed while descending on the narrow, rain-soaked road.

Radio Shack rider Levi Leipheimer spoke with Versus-TV after the stage ended.

“That was just ridiculous,” Leipheimer exclaimed. “We were coming down the Stockeu and it was just chaos; guys crashing everywhere, motorbikes … everybody off the road.

Dozens of riders fell as they came on the scene of confusion; some recovered quickly, some more slowly, and even riders that didn’t crash got held up trying to pick safe paths through their fallen competitors.

Fabian Cancellara (C) asks the riders not to sprint to support the riders who crashed during Stage Two of the 2010 Tour de France. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

Fabian Cancellara (C) asks the riders not to sprint to support the riders who crashed during Stage Two of the 2010 Tour de France. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

“We didn’t know what was up for 10 k we didn’t know who was in the front, or in the back there was no television for the directors. We just kind of had to set the tempo for a while because we didn’t know what was going on,” Leipheimer said.

Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Transitions waits for medics after crashing in Stage Two of the Tour de France. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Transitions waits for medics after crashing in Stage Two of the Tour de France. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

After the crash, Fabian Cancellara, in the yellow jersey which he knew he was voluntarily surrendering for the good of the team and for the honor of the Tour, organized the peloton to slow down and wait for all the fallen riders who could, to rejoin.

Part of this was simple strategy—Saxo Bank teammates Frank and Andy Schleck had crashed, Andy quite hard, and Cancellara wanted to make sure they didn’t lose any time in the General Classification.

Many of the favorites, including Garmin's Tyler Farrar and Christian Vande Velde, came home ten to twenty minutes after the peloton, heavily bandaged and hurting. Some of the riders who eventually rejoined the peloton, including the Schlecks, have injuries yet to be determined.

Even after most of the injured riders rejoined, Cancellara kept the whole peloton together in ranks across the road, not allowing any attacks, not chasing Chavanel or even Maxime Monfort, who was only several hundred yards ahead.

Fabian Cancellara (L) talks to Tour de France race director, Jean-Francois Pecheux (in car) about road conditions. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Fabian Cancellara (L) talks to Tour de France race director, Jean-Francois Pecheux (in car) about road conditions. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

“We found out what was up and had it under control I think everybody decided that, ‘Enough is enough, we’re going to just ride it in’,” Leipheimer explained.

Too Dangerous?

Andy Schleck rides a bike borrowed from a teammate after crashing in Stage Two of the Tour de France while descending the col de Stockeu. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Andy Schleck rides a bike borrowed from a teammate after crashing in Stage Two of the Tour de France while descending the col de Stockeu. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Cancellara had a heated exchange with race director, Jean-Francois Pecheux as the peloton wheeled slowly towards the finish line; apparently many of the riders were upset at the route, thinking the road was too narrow for the volume of riders expected to race it.

The same might be said of the final sprint of Stage One—the road was extremely narrow, certainly dangerous for a group sprint. Too dangerous?

Leipheimer said some crashes were to be expected under those conditions, but intimated that perhaps the chosen routes were not suitable.

“This is the Tour de France. First week, everybody’s fresh, everyone is nervous … There’s always crashes, that’s just the history of the race. We gotta stay in the front, and when they send us on courses like this it just makes it worse.

“I don’t know if that’s what they want to see—they want to see us bleeding? It makes for a stressful race. It definitely adds a new element to the race. It’s pure survival.”

Manuel Cardoso rides in the Tour de France Prologue with a broken jaw and shoulder blade. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

Manuel Cardoso rides in the Tour de France Prologue with a broken jaw and shoulder blade. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

Two riders crashed in the Prologue: BMC’s Mathias Frank suffered a torn thigh and a broken thumb; Footon-Servetto’s Manuel Cardoso a broken jaw and shoulder blade. Both finished the stage but had to withdraw.

After the three crashes in Stage One, HTC’s Adam Hansen had to withdraw with a broken collarbone (he also finished the stage) and twelve other riders needed medical attention: Andreas Kloden of Radio Shack, Levi Leipheimer of Radio Shack , Ivan Basso of Liquigas, David Millar of Garmin, Nicolas Roche of AG2R, Serguei Ivanov of Katusha, Alessandro Ballan of BMC, Dries Devenynd of QuickStep, Thomas Rohregger of Milram, Gorka Verdugo of Euskatel, Oscar Freire of Rabobank, Mirco Loranzetto of Lampre.

Stage Three holds the prospect of more carnage as the route includes several sections of cobblestones, extremely difficult and dangerous.

Hopefully the 2010 Tour will not be decided by injuries and wrecks. The Schlecks were two of the top contenders for the overall win.

Contador fell yesterday but only lightly bruised a knee—lucky, for he is probably the No. 1 contender for the overall.

Lance Armstrong was caught up in today's crash but was not injured. He is certainly a top GC contender.

If Contador, Armstrong, and the Schlecks were to crash out of the Tour, fans could be left with a Tour full of domestiques competing for the GC win.

Hopefully Tour organizers will think hard about the catastrophes of the first stages.

2010 Tour de France General Classification—Stage Two

 

Rider 

Team 

Time 

Gaps

1

Sylvain Chavanel

Quick Step

10h 01' 25"

 

2

Fabian Cancellara

Saxo Bank

10h 04' 22"

+ 02' 57"

3

Tony Martin

HTC—Columbia

10h 04' 32"

+ 03' 07"

4

David Millar

Garmin—Transitions

10h 04' 42"

+ 03' 17"

5

Lance Armstrong

Radioshack

10h 04' 44"

+ 03' 19"

6

Geraint Thomas

Sky

10h 04' 45"

+ 03' 20"

7

Alberto Contador

Astana

10h 04' 49"

+ 03' 24"

8

Levi Leipheimer

Radioshack

10h 04' 50"

+ 03' 25"

9

Edvald Boasson

Sky

10h 04' 54"

+ 03' 29"

10

Linus Gerdemann

Milram

10h 04' 57"

+ 03' 32"




   

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