Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme walked to the Orica-BikeExchange bus this morning in Pau to climb onboard and apologise to Adam Yates, who crashed at high-speed into a falling one-kilometre arch yesterday.
The inflatable arch deflated and quickly fell as Yates raced ahead of the peloton to gain time to take the white jersey from Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx–Quick-Step). Yates fell on his face, which required four stitches. He said that his neck, wrist and leg are sore.
“I just wanted to say sorry and to shake hands with him,” Prudhomme after coming off the bus. “I didn’t have time beforehand yesterday.”
Prudhomme and organiser ASO explained how a spectator accidentally snagged the cord of one of the generators powering the motor inflating the red arch. The air escaped and the arch fell just as Yates arrived. He somersaulted over the arch and could not restart until well after the group that he had tried to leave passed.
Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) won the stage from a solo escape, the the Chris Froome (Team Sky) group with Alaphilippe finished at 4-29 minutes and Yates at 8-15. The organiser decided later to take the time at the three kilometre mark, where Yates was seven seconds ahead.
Doing so, meant Yates moved one second ahead of Alaphilippe for the white jersey and moved to second overall, 5-50 behind yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).
“It’s better if this had not happened, as usual,” Prudhomme said of the incident. “We are going to have men controlling these arches so it does not happen again.”
Yates came off the bus 30 minutes later. After his eight teammates, he stepped down in his white jersey, which the organisation gave him over night, and blue team shorts with white trim. His Scott bicycle waited for him with white bar tape.
“[Prudhomme] just apologised for what happened,” Yates said. “It’s not his fault, but just my bad luck, that’s all there is to it. Fair play for him to him for doing that.”
He said often that he was just going to “get on with it” and “there is nothing you can do” several times.
Today, he will wear the white jersey through the Pyrenees. The eighth stage covers four passes including the Tourmalet and Peyresourde before it finishes in finishes in Bagnères-de-Luchon. Yates said that he did not expect to be in the white jersey for the ride.
“Not really. The whole reason I was up there was to try to get the jersey. I’d like to thank the organisation for sorting it out. I’ll try to hold onto for as long as possible,” he continued.
“That’s the plan, [to stay with the leaders]. It’ll be a stage of two different races with the break again and GC.”
Yates underlined that his main goal is winning one of the mountain stages not the yellow jersey. In his debut Tour last year, he placed three times in the top ten.