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The Stockeau Massacre: Damage assessment after the Tour de France’s second stage

  • By Neal Rogers
  • Published Jul. 5, 2010
  • Updated Jul. 5, 2010 at 6:26 PM EDT
2010 Tour de France stage 2, Frank Schleck

Chavanel and Pineau celebrate

Belgian team Quick Step, and its French rider, Sylvain Chavanel, had a near perfect day Monday, taking the stage win, the yellow jersey and the climber’s jersey — and all in the team’s home country.

For just about every other team in the race, Monday was nothing short of miserable.

A series of crashes on the slippery descent of the Col du Stockeu saw nearly every top GC rider on the deck, including Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong, Fränk and Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde. Dozens of other riders were spotted in varying states of disarray.

It all started when Lampre rider Francesco Gavazzi crashed out of the breakaway on the Stockeu. A TV motorcycle then crashed while avoiding hitting Gavazzi, and the bike spilled oil on the road. The oil had time to run down the hill by the time the peloton came through a few minutes later, setting off a dangerous domino effect that saw over 60 riders sliding across the road.

Here’s a look at how some teams fared:

Garmin-Transitions: One of the hardest hit, with five riders crashing, including Julian Dean, Tyler Farrar and Christian Vande Velde, who left the Tour after X-rays revealed broken ribs. Robbie Hunter also crashed, while David Millar reportedly hit the deck three separate times.  Farrar crossed the line 20 minutes behind Chavanel, heavily bandaged and in tears, and along with Dean and Vande Velde, went to the hospital for x-rays immediately following the stage. Farrar and Dean have no broken bones and will continue.

RadioShack: Lance Armstrong, Andreas Kloden and Levi Leipheimer crashed. None were seriously injured. “There was something on the road,” Armstrong said. “We just couldn’t stay on our bikes…. It was more of a slide. I’ve got some good abrasions. It was so slippery that you just slid, so not much swelling. It was mostly abrasions. I will feel fine tomorrow… It seems that almost everybody crashed. Everyone will be banged up tomorrow. Between today and yesterday, the vast majority of the peloton has been on the ground at least once.”

Saxo Bank: GC contenders Fränk and Andy Schleck each crashed and put in a massive effort to chase back on, with the help of the stoic Jens Voigt, while race leader Fabian Cancellara sacrificed his yellow jersey in order to help his teammates get back into the bunch. “The first thing on my mind after the crash was Andy and Fränk. They are our captains, and of course, I want to show solidarity, respect and loyalty to them and to the race by waiting, even though I lost the jersey,” Cancellara said. “It was the right thing to do, to wait, so everybody comes together to the finish line together. When you have everybody on the ground and people five minutes behind because they can’t find their bike then it’s only normal.”

Frank Schleck at the finish.

BMC Racing: Cadel Evans, George Hincapie and Mauro Santambrogio all crashed, with Hincapie going down twice in 200 meters. All three have road rash, but nothing broken. “It was a straight road, downhill, with oil on it, and the whole peloton went down,” Evans said. “Sorry to the public for not racing. But it would not have been fair to the many who were injured.”

Milram: Nearly totally avoided the crashes. Niki Terpstra was the only team rider involved, crashing on the Stockeu descent. “The riders themselves made the decision, to show their respect for the crashed riders,” said team manager Gerry van Gerwen. “But you must also see the other side. The fans, who stand along the road to see cycling, and for the sponsors and the race organizers, who invest so much in the Tour de France — they also deserve respect.”

Cervélo TestTeam: All riders managed to get through the crashes, and the team was upset with the peloton’s decision not to contest the finish. “I feel frustrated by what happened today,” said Thor Hushovd. “Our team was working hard and we would have had a good chance for victory. I feel like they have taken something away from us today. There were a few sprinters who did not make it to the front group, but there was no reason not to contest the sprint. Everyone made a gentleman’s agreement not to sprint, but I lost an important opportunity to try to win the stage and gain points.”

Team Sky: Simon Gerrans, Bradley Wiggins and Michael Barry all came down and received mostly surface injuries, the team said. “It was ridiculously slippery,” said Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford. “They were coming down the last couple of descents and there were guys in the trees. It was carnage in the true sense of the word. Sixty guys must have crashed in different places.”

HTC-Columbia: None of the team’s eight remaining riders crashed.

Astana: Seven of the team’s nine riders crashed, including Alberto Contador. Others included Alexander Vinokourov, David de la Fuente, Maxim Iglinskiy, Paolo Tiralong and Jesus Hernandez, who crashed twice. Only Dani Navarro and Benjamin Noval managed to avoid the pileup. Contador has suffered a blow and abrasions on the right hip, knee and elbow. “On this road it was impossible not to fall. I fell on a straight part at about 60kph and when I thought about what could have happened, I saw that at every turn there were people on the ground; it was impossible to go without falling.”

Cofidis: Samuel Dumoulin, Amael Moinard and Sébastian Minard all crashed.

Katusha: Russian Vladimir Karpets and Aussie sprinter Robbie McEwen both crashed. McEwen went to the hospital to have a deep wound in his elbow treated.

Footon-Servetto: Basque rider Iban Mayoz was the only rider in the massive crash during the descent of the Côte de Stockeu. However, the rider from Azpeitia had only minor bruises and finished safely in a small group behind the leaders.

Liquigas: GC co-captain Roman Kreuziger also crashed, though Ivan Basso, who crashed Sunday, did not. “I was at the front of the peloton and suddenly there were riders on the road and I had no time to hit the brakes,” Kreuziger said. “I hit my right knee pretty bad, but I am hoping I can get some massage tonight and be ready for tomorrow.”

Rabobank: Dutch climber Robert Gesink broke a bone in his right arm. His team did not announce that he was leaving the Tour, but it seems likely.

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Neal Rogers

Neal Rogers

Neal Rogers is editor in chief of Velo magazine and VeloNews.com. An interest in all things rock 'n' roll led him into music journalism while attending UC Santa Cruz, on the central coast of California. After several post-grad years spent waiting tables, surfing, and mountain biking, he moved to San Francisco, working as a bike messenger, and at a software startup. He moved to Boulder, Colorado, in 2001, taking an editorial internship at VeloNews. He never left. When not traveling the world covering races, he can be found riding his bike, skiing, or attending a concert.

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