Welcome to the Feed Zone. Grab a musette and sit down for a nourishing snack of Tour de France news, views, gossip and reaction from our team out on the road.
MCGEE EXPLAINS RIDERS’ DECISION
Yesterday’s drama focused around Saxo Bank, with the Schlecks’ crash and the Cancellara-marshalled bunch protest.
CW talked to Saxo Bank directeur sportif Bradley McGee at the stage start in Wanze. The Australian emphasised how the race neutralisation after the crash was not a management decision.
“I think it’s impressive that the riders agreed among themselves to neutralise the race. It was an extraordinary situation, and they decided to do the fairest thing,” McGee said.
“The riders aren’t a bunch of monkeys, they were looking out for their safety. Nobody wanted to profit from somebody going down, because it was totally random.”
When asked about the neutralised bunch finish, the 2003 Tour yellow jersey wearer said: “They didn’t know who was behind because of the race and who was behind because of the crash; the riders felt it was the fairest thing [to neutralise it]. I don’t think we’re setting a precedent here.”
As for today’s stage, it doesn’t seem like the peloton has cause for complaint about the inclusion of the jagged cobblestones of Northern France. “We’ve known since last October about these roads. If you don’t want to ride the cobbles, then don’t start the Tour, because that’s what we’ve got this year.”
What will happen if a similar to today scenario pans out? “Today is another day, we start again,” McGee concluded.
LLOYD’S ROUGH TOUR DEBUT
Tour debutant Daniel Lloyd got another taste of the cut and thrust of the race, coming down right by some of the race’s choice contenders on the descent of the Cote de Stockeu.
”The Schlecks fell off on the corner in front of me,” the Cervélo rider recalled. “It was just a slight curve in the road, but as soon as I touched my brakes, that was it.”
“By the time, I got my bike sorted out, I was a long way behind. I didn’t see anything on the road but there was certainly something. I’m really stiff around my hip and groin.”
The consenus is that oil or diesel on the road, combined with rain, caused the crash. Even straight-line progress was treacherous, as breakaway Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre) demonstrated with his heavy crash.
Cervélo were the least happy with the decision to neutralise the finish yesterday, as they had a prime opportunity to extend Thor Hushovd’s advantage in the green jersey.
”It’s frustrating; I don’t know why they neutralised the points, rather than just neutralise the GC riders’ time,” Lloyd suggested.
“For us it was a big disappointment because we rode on the front all day. There was a bit of confusion, and Thor didn’t want to go against the grain of the other riders and make enemies for the next three weeks.”
VAUGHTERS PHILOSOPHICAL ABOUT GARMIN HARM
With Christian Vande Velde out of the race and Tyler Farrar battling on bravely, you’d have forgiven Jonathan Vaughters for being less understanding after losing his two leaders in one fell swoop.
But, w When asked whether the sport was safe enough, the Garmin managerwas philosophical. “Either you accept that cycling is very dangerous, or you have a fundamental shift in the paradigm of what the sport is,” he said.
Further answering the question with a few of his own, Vaughters added: “Is it practical in front of the race looking at road conditions every 100 yards? Do we try to make it one degree safer to protect the investments of sponsors, or do we remain traditionalists?”
Were the riders right to neutralise the stage and sprint? “Yes. Half the peloton and GC contenders were on the ground. It was fairplay. Cycling showed an ethic and focus on fairplay beyond what I’ve seen in any other sport.”
The big winner from the go-slow protest was Quick Step. Not only did Sylvain Chavanel leave Spa with the stage win and yellow and green points jerseys, but Jerome Pineau hoovered up the King of the Mountains points to make it an excellent day in the office.
This morning, Pineau arrived on the start line in Wanze with an eye-catching polka-dot style bike.
Chavanel also had a new paintjob but his looked decidely less dapper, a dodgy combination of yellow and green.
Although the Eddy Merckx factories are only in Brussels, that’s a speedy 12-hour turnaround. Chapeau to the men with the spray paint.
CW snapper Andy Jones got some shots of the funky steads, so keep an eye out for photos soon.
KNAVEN: THAT’S BIKE RACING
Servais Knaven didn’t make it onto the Milram team as a rider, but his years of experience are being reaped in a consultancy role.
The 2000 Paris-Roubaix winner gave CW his take on yesterday’s events: ”From my point of view, I can understand the riders being unhappy. A lot of people fell and no-one knew who was behind. It was right that they let everyone catch up.”
“But the last 10 kilometres, there was nothing wrong, so I didn’t see why they needed to neutralise the sprint.”
“Everyone knew that these roads were in the Tour, no-one knew that it was going to rain. The conditions weren’t easy, but it was the same for everyone: some were lucky, some were not. To an extent, that’s bike racing.
Do these roads belong in the Tour? “The cobbles are in France and this is the Tour de France. I’m a rider for the flat and the cobbles, so I’d be happy. I don’t complain when they send me over the mountains,” he joked.
Three more men joined the Tour de France abandon list, making it a total of seven withdrawals.
With bad facial cuts from a crash before the Stockeu, Mickael Delage (Omega Pharma-Lotto) failed to finish yesterday’s stage.
Meanwhile, Dutch champion Niki Terpstra (Milram) and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Transitions) did not start this morning.
Terpstra has been suffering with a cold and a fever since the start of the race.
Vande Velde cracked two ribs on the right side of his body in yesterday’s crash, adding to the three on the left side sustained in last month’s Tour de Suisse. The luckless American also aggravated a back injury from a crash last year.
Despite has a chipped bone on his carpals (wristbone), Tyler Farrar is determined to carry on. His injury will be strapped up heavily for the cobbles. Suffice to say, the American’s aim today is purely survival.
THE CASUALTY LIST
The first two road stages of the Tour are always nervous and error-strewn affairs, but the casualty list in today’s L’Equipe practically needed its own supplement.
We’d be here all day listing all those who hit the deck, so here are the choice selections:
Astana – everyone fell bar Noval and Navarro
Alberto Contador – bruised elbow
Lance Armstrong – sore elbow and bottom
Levi Leipheimer – wrist still sore from first stage crash
The Schlecks – scratches but nothing serious
Tyler Farrar – chipped bone in wrist
Julian Dean – went to hospital
Team Sky – Barry, Gerrans, Wiggins fell. Wiggins broke his bike and finished the stage on Boasson Hagen’s ride
Roman Kreuziger – injured his knee
Cadel Evans – crashed
George Hincapie – crashed
Robert Gesink – fractured wrist
Vladimir Karpets – went to hospital Robbie McEwen – went to hospital
Thomas Voeckler – injured knee
And last but not least:
Footon-Servetto – only one rider fell