Ryder Hesjedal's chances of winning the Tour de France may have been weakened with the crash of key mountain domestique, Tom Danielson. The American placed top 10 last year and was expected to support Hesjedal's dream of winning or placing in the top three.
Team Garmin-Sharp's Danielson went down in the stage to Boulogne-sur-Mer and suffered a shoulder injury yesterday. Team-mate Christian Vande Velde also crashed and lost around two minutes. In addition to being helpers, both were the team's back-up GC riders.
"Tommy D and Christian were both the plan B," sports director, Allan Peiper told Cycling Weekly. "Now the tactic is simplified, we only have one leader and no plan B or C. That's a good way to look at it."
GC rider Janez Brajkovic (Astana) also crashed, while José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Sky) abandoned the race.
Danielson separated his right shoulder, but is able to continue racing.
"He's in a bit of pain. He's got it strapped up. Hopefully that helps. We hope he can get through the next days thanks to some physio work. He's pretty crucial to our plan to have depth in the climbing department," Peiper added.
"It's disappointing, but our main objective remains Ryder Hesjedal. He's still in place, got through yesterday unscathed."
Hesjedal won the Giro d'Italia over a month ago. The team selected the Canadian to be its leader for the Tour to attempt a Giro-Tour double, which has not been seen for 14 years, since 1998. Hesjedal says he's aiming for the podium, but he's also eyeing the win.
"If Tom's shoulder's hurt and can't perform properly then that's not good," Hesjedal told Cycling Weekly. "Christian was strong. He's in good shape... So it's not as bad."
He and team-mates Dan Martin and Tyler Farrar also crashed. Hesjedal fell down on a climb when the speeds were slower. He said that he had to put his foot down, twisted his bike's handlebars and broke his shoe cleat, but that he was thankful to come away unscathed.
"Everyone's trying to be at the front, but there is no real right spot when there are just random crashes on the road," Hesjedal added. "That big crash happened right near the front, there's just nothing people can do when that happens. It's just the luck of the job. You just get through each day and hope for the best."
Peiper thinks that his team will need to rely more on the other teams, including Sky and BMC Racing, when the Tour reaches the mountains on Saturday.
"It'd be great to have three climbers back up with Ryder going into the mountains. We haven't lost Tommy D yet and we are going to try to get him through these next days," Peiper said. "Essentially, with Christian Vande Velde and Dan Martin, we have a couple of good riders. David Millar and Johan Van Summeren, who climb well, can get them into the depth of the race. We have good back up. Let's hope Ryder gets through."
Hesjedal's just looking ahead, ready to climb and not stress about random crashes.
"It's nice when the group gets a bit smaller and the legs do more of the talking," said Hesjedal, "than just the Kamikaze trying to be up there for no reason."
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Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour de France 2012 provisional start list
Tour de France 2012 team list
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever
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