Mark Cavendish will have a harder time securing stage wins in this year’s Tour de France with the absence of HTC-Columbia team-mate Adam Hansen. Australia’s Hansen abandoned after yesterday’s stage one finish to Brussels due to a crash earlier in the day.
“It makes it more difficult for us because he was planned to be the guy to speed it up and line it out,” said sports director, Rolf Aldag. “We will have to gamble because we can’t line up like we did last year – one guy going after the next, leading to 200 metres and Mark winning.”
Hansen crashed 50 kilometres into the race, but was able to continue to the finish. However, a hospital visit last night revealed a fractured sternum and rib, and dislocated left collarbone.
Cavendish relies on Hansen as an integral part of his sprint train. The Australian was brought into this Tour de France in part to replace George Hincapie, who left to join BMC Racing.
Hansen’s goal was to speed up the pace in the final two kilometres and pull off with one kilometre remaining for the team’s final four men: Tony Martin, Bernhard Eisel, Mark Renshaw and Cavendish. His work will now be shared amongst Mick Rogers and Maxime Monfort.
“The chances are still there if you are the fastest sprinter, but now you have a bigger chance to fail or to get nailed to the fence,” Aldag continued. “Now, maybe the fastest sprinter won’t always win.”
Aldag said that his men may rely on other lead-out men to take briefly over, say for Eisel to let Garmin-Transitions’ Julian Dean in. This was also part of the team’s plan yesterday, but a crash affected Cavendish’s chances of winning.
Cavendish clipped the rear wheel of Eisel through a right hand turn at 2.5 kilometres to race and crashed.
“He hung on to it, came loose and then went straight into the fence,” Aldag said. “He may have had a chance to save it but there was someone coming through right afterwards.”
Cavendish, unlike Hansen, escaped with only minor scrapes and looks ahead to winning his first stage of this year’s Tour de France. Last year he won six, though, this year his goal is less, but to win the green sprinters jersey.
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