Admittedly this is the first year that I have followed the Tour de France religiously, but this year it seems the be plagued with an epidemic of crashes resulting in many big name riders abandoning the race. The crash on the first day that left contador trailing the leaders by two minutes was only the start of what was to be a seemingly endless onslaught of crashes.
One of the first big names to exit the tour was Janez Brajkovic of team radioshack, who after an unfortunate high speed crash on stage five was simply unable to continue riding due to a concussion among other injuries. But the list was not to end there, and team sky took a major hit with the loss of Bradley Wiggins due to a broken collar bone, a huge blow considering he was tipped as one of the favourite’s to be wearing yellow when the peleton rolled into Paris.
However none of this compared to the carnage that was seen on stage nine, with several big name riders involved in spills and having to withdraw.
The Image of Alexandre Vinokourov being carried back to the road after his crash was an indication of his terrible condition, and he was forced to retire with a broken pelvis and leg, and in reality he was lucky to be alive. The list of casualties also included garmin’s Dave Zabriske who broke his wrist and Jurgen Van Der Brock who retired with a spinal injury.
While crashes are, unfortunately, part and parcel of professional cycling, what happened later in the stage was outrageous and frankly disgraceful
The above Video shows a french television car crashing into Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland, catapulting Hoogerland off the road and into a barbed wire fence, the result of which can be seen in the first image above. This incident is intolerable and the driver of the car should be arrested for what was essentially a hit and run!
Sadly this wasn’t the first time something like this happened in this years tour, images of Nikki Sorenson being dragged along the road by the Getty images motorcycle spring to mind. It’s bad enough that the cyclists have to worry about crashing into each other, spectators and course obstacles, but when they have to worry about getting hit by event vehicles, things are bordering on the insane.
Im just glad that no one was was killed, and was inspired and impressed by Hoogerland, who managed to finish the stage and claim the Polka dot jersey despite the happenings of the day. He was quoted as saying:
“We can still be happy that we’re alive. It’s horrible. I can blame everyone but I don’t think anyone does this sort of thing on purpose,” he said. “I have three cuts that are about seven centimeters long and quite deep too. I’ll go to the hospital now and I think I’ll need about 30 stitches at least….I landed on the fence and I looked at my legs and thought, ‘Is this what cycling is about?’ I have the polka-dot jersey but I’m going to spend the rest day in a lot of pain.”
I have immense respect for anyone who can do what he did and I hope that there are fitting repercussions for the driver of the french tv car, as behaviour like this is unacceptable.
|207||POELS Wouter (NED)||VACANSOLEIL-DCM||withdrawls|
|192||BRUTT Pavel (RUS)||KATUSHA TEAM||withdrawls|
|61||VINOKOUROV Alexandre (KAZ)||PRO TEAM ASTANA||withdrawls|
|59||ZABRISKIE David (USA)||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||withdrawls|
|44||GARATE Juan Manuel (ESP)||RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM||non-starter|
|39||WILLEMS Frederik (BEL)||OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO||withdrawls|
|31||VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen (BEL)||OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO||withdrawls|
|26||TXURRUKA Amets (ESP)||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||withdrawls|