ST. FLOUR, France (VN) — A mid-race crash helped Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) gain the yellow jersey in Sunday’s crash-filled stage across the Massif Central.
The peloton was within about three minutes of the Voeckler group when scores of big names hit the deck. The peloton decided to slow the pace to allow wounded and dazed riders to regain contact with the front group. That allowed the breakaway’s gap to widen to nearly eight minutes. Garmin-Cervélo sport director Lionel Marie said it probably cost Thor Hushovd a shot at defending the yellow jersey.
Team manager Jonathan Vaughters, however, said the peloton’s decision to wait was made spontaneously on the road.
“Thor has shown he has the power throughout this Tour. We were controlling the stage perfectly, but we had to change plans with the big crash,” Vaughters said. “I think it’s very respectful when the peloton eases up. There are no written rules. You have to respect the decision that the riders make on the road. It’s their lives that are at risk.”
Hushovd was diplomatic after the stage, saying that he enjoyed his run in the yellow jersey, adding, “When the peloton slowed down, chances of keeping the yellow jersey were over.”
The primary beneficiary was Voeckler, who recaptured the yellow jersey for the time since his heroic 10-day run in yellow during the 2004 Tour.
Voeckler, who now leads Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) by 1:49, admitted that the peloton’s crash probably helped him take yellow.
“Crashes are part of cycling. We were making our race. Whether or not we would have made it had they not crashed we will never know,” Voeckler said.
“I am lucky, because I avoided the crash with Hoogerland and Flecha. That was something really bad. It could have been me.”
Horner leaves hospital
Good news about Chris Horner. RadioShack officials confirmed that Horner has already left a French hospital following his harrowing crash in stage 8. The 39-year-old suffered a concussion, a broken nose and other cuts and scrapes in the high-speed crash with 40km to go.
Team officials said that Horner will recuperate at the home of sport director Alain Gallopin, in the same apartment where Horner used to live when he raced for Gallopin at FDJ back in the late 1990s.
“Chris has already gone to McDonald’s, so he’s doing better,” said RadioShack spokesman Philippe Maertens. Here’s a picture of a happy Horner.
Van Garderen second American to hold King of Mountains jersey
Tejay Van Garderen’s run in the polka-dot King of the Mountains jersey was short-lived, but historic nonetheless.
After digging into the Tour archives, our friends at InfoStrada Sports confirmed that Van Garderen is the second American to lead the category. The first to wear the distinctive climber’s jersey was Greg LeMond in his dramatic showdown with Bernhard Hinault during the 1986 Tour.
LeMond was leading the climber’s competition on the Alpe d’Huez stage, but was wearing the yellow jersey instead. Hinault went on to win the best climber’s prize that year. No American has ever won the KoM competition at the Tour.
“It’s my first Tour, so I’m very pleased,” Van Garderen said Saturday. “I was trying to win the stage, but the group was not working together so well and maybe I got a little nervous. I tried for the King of the Mountains jersey, got that, but I didn’t quite have the legs to chase Rui Costa. It’s great to have the polka-dot jersey.”
Cipollini: Sprinting is like ‘an orgasm’
Mario Cipollini is never one to hold his tongue. In an interview published in L’Equipe, Cipollini said sprinters today “accept defeat too easily” and said that sprinters “cannot be gentlemen,” while admitting that “Cavendish is 100 times better than me.”
The Lion King went on to say he misses the action of racing: “A sprint … it’s like an orgasm, a joy that is physical as well as mental. In civil life, it is difficult to find that degree of emotion.” We have a feeling that that isn’t stopping Cipollini from looking.
Yellow: Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) ended Thor Hushovd’s yellow jersey run after riding in with a three-man winning breakaway
Green: Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) widened his lead in the points competition,
Polka-dot: Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) regained the climber’s jersey from Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Columbia). Hoogerland leads Voeckler 22-16, with Van Garderen third with 5.
White: Robert Gesink (Rabobank) defended the young rider’s jersey, 51 seconds ahead of Rein Taaramae (Cofidis)
Best team: Europcar ends Garmin-Cervélo’s lead in the category, now 32 seconds ahead of Leopard-Trek; Garmin-Cervélo slips to fifth at 1:50 back
Most aggressive rider(s): Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) share the prize — some consolation after being knocked off their bikes by a French TV car. It’s the first time in Tour history two men have shared the prize.
50CHF fine for Andrey Amador (Movistar) for drafting too long behind vehicle; 200CHF fine for Movistar sport director for same offense (Article 12.1.040.19.2.2)
100CHF fine for Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) for not obeying instructions from race officials (Article 12.1.040.28)
100CHF fine for Robert Gesink (Raobank) for “comportement incorrect” (Article 12.1.040.37)
30CHF for Duque for “bidden collé” (Article 12.1.040.37); 50CHF fine for Cofidis sport director
Communique from Tour de France
Race officials released a communique reminding everyone of “rider safety” following the accident when a French TV car knocked over Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil). The driver and the car were ejected from the Tour.
Crash at 40km: Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), fractured collarbone, transported to hospital; Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad), cuts, scrapes to right elbow; David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo), trauma to right elbow; Jean-Christophe Perraud (Omega Pharma-Lotto), cuts to right elbow, knee; Marcus Burghardt (BMC), scrapes to left knee, elbow.
Crash at 100km: Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), fractured right femur, evacuated by ambulance; Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto), fractured shoulder blade, evacuated by ambulance; Frederik Willems (Omega Pharma-Lotto), fractured clavicle; David Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo), probable fractured wrist; Brent Bookwalter (BMC), cuts to left shoulder, knee, light head trauma.
Crash at 130km: Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack), cuts to left elbow.
Crash at 170km: Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), multiple cuts and scrapes, transported to local hospital; Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), multiple cuts and scrapes.
Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil), Arnaud Coyot (Saur-Sojasun), digestive problems.
Grega Bole (Lampre), pain in left knee.
It was another rough day in the peloton, with a disastrous crash midway through the stage forcing the early exit of several big names. The peloton is down to 180 riders going into Monday’s rest day.
DNS: Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank)
DNF: Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Frederik Willems (OPL), Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervélo), Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil)
Continued cool with chance of showers for Monday’s rest day. Most teams will put a few hours on the bike to keep the legs limber, so they will be watching the skies to try to avoid getting wet.