Sunday, July 10, 2011

Week One Of The Tour de France: Nothing But Crashes

With the beginning of the tour crashes can always be expected. The combination of being the biggest race in the world, beginning jitters and the leader board not being spread out enough. All are contributing factors to this happening.

However, if you were to tell me that Alberto Contador would be minute and half down after the first stage I probably would have laughed at you.

Then to lose an additional thirty seconds in the team time trial (TTT) on stage two puts the three time former winner on the ropes right out of the gate. I certainly don't think he's out of the running. But it's going to make him go on the offensive once we reach the mountains. Which us spectators will make for some great racing.

I do find it curious though that every time Contador has gotten in a crash that he has been mid or back of the pack at the time. Now I know that it's a cliche to say that "You need to ride at the front." Everyone knows that. And yet there is no possible way that everyone could be. However, you would think that a guy as strong as Contador would make an extra special effort to always be in the top twenty guys (Although looking at some of the crashes. Even that isn't a guarantee.)

I suspect it's Contador's team that's the problem. I don't think they have the big brute horsepower to keep him up front and safe in race that's as sketchy as the tour. To many little Spanish climbers and not enough muscle.

But besides Contador we've seen the exit of Levi out of GC contention because of a crash on stage 6 and then he loses even more time on stage 7. He seemed to be in good form too. We haven't gotten to the "real" mountains yet but he was always up in the mix and out of trouble.

Janez Brajkovic was diagnosed with concussion

Radio Shack's Janez Brajkovic wasn't as lucky. He went down badly in stage 5 and had to be taken away by ambulance with a broken collarbone and a concussion.

Tom Boonen (quick Step) finishes the stage

Poor Tom Boonen was taken down in a nasty little crash on stage 6. He ended up finishing the stage but abandoned 60 km into stage 7. It was pretty plain that he had a head injury.

Bradly Wiggins went down in a crash that ended his tour early as well with a broken left collarbone. It was a large pile up with about 35 km to go. Unfortunately Chris Horner and Levi were caught up in the same accident as well.

Chris Horner (RadioShack) lost over twelve minutes in a crash.

Horner had some pretty serious head trauma. And quite frankly after watching the video of him after the race. I can't believe the race doctor and Johan Bruyneel let him continue. I would also like to go on record as stating that if he is at the start of the race tomorrow I will personally go over and punch Bruyneel in the neck. (I since see that he didn't start the next day.)

It's pretty scary stuff....

Then on Stage 9 things seemed to get worse. A horrendous crash with the abandon of tour hopeful Jurgen Van Den Broeck along with his teammate. Poor Dave Zabriskie broke his wrist. Not much of a consolation prize for working like a dog for the first week. Alexander Vinokourov having to DNF because of a broken pelvis (Ouch!).

 As well as the completely idiotic (The driver, not the riders) accident involving a media motorcycle and Juan Antonia Fletcha and Johnny Hoogerland. Hoogerland ended up with some terrible lacerations from his hips down. But he did end up with the KOM jersey. Unfortunately I don't think he's going to be able to defend it with his injuries.

Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) crashed onto a barbed wire fence after he and breakaway companion Juan Antonio Flecha were hit by a car from French television.

I really hope with the rest day coming up. That everyone gets a chance to lick their wounds and come back a little sharper and hopefully a lot safer.

Rubber side down guys,

Big E

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