Yesterday’s stage winner and world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) complained that the race has become more dangerous in the last few years because cyclists are riding “as if they don’t care about their life.”
“They’re on the bikes to be fair to them they’re going to know better than I am,” Brailsford said.
“No doubt about it, we are getting into a situation in the sport where sprinters doing the sprint lead out, world-class sprinters of course, and the benefits of winning a Tour stage is massive, so guys are prepared to take quite big risks in terms of the reward.
“Then you’ve got all the GC guys trying to stay out of trouble… so it doubles up. We had discussions with the UCI about doing a five-kilometre rule, then let sprinters go and do their thing, it didn’t happen this time around. I’m not sure how it works for spectators but we want the GC guys to all get through to Paris.”
In the first sprint stages of Grand Tours, the classification teams often push to the front in the final kilometres with their leaders to avoid crashes and to stay safe. However, it creates a busy and hectic situation when the sprint teams also line up for their men.
Former Team Sky helper Richie Porte (BMC Racing) punctured with 4.5 kilometres remaining in yesterday’s stage two and lost 1-45 minutes. He punctured at a time when his team car could not reach him because of the technical roads leading to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin.
Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas fell in a crash with Michael Morkov (Katusha) in the final kilometre of stage one, won by Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data). Because he was in the final three kilometres, he did not lose time due to a UCI rule that allows riders to keep their same time if they crash or a held up by an incident in the final three kilometres.
Two-time winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), however, crashed midway into the last two stages. He fell on his right shoulder on stage one and on his left side on stage two. Perhaps related to the injuries, he suffered a 48-second time loss.
“It’s a reminder you’ve always got to stay concentrated. It’s that age-old thing , there’s only so much risk you can control. You can control an element of that and you try to control maximum amount you can,” Brailsford said.
“It’s a shame for Richie, a puncture is different to being in bad position or something. I really feel for him, he’s in super shape.
“If it’s bad positioning or anything else fair enough, but you never want to see anyone puncture and lose time or crash and lose time. It’s part of the sport but it’s not the way you want it to happen.”
“[Thomas is] sore, pretty banged up in terms of quite a nasty, no crack structural damage but it was a fair ol’ whack so he’s sore, take a couple of days to get over that,” Brailsford added.