Bruxelles to Spa – Another Sketchy Day At Le Tour

Posted: July 5, 2010 in It's All Important Stuff

Hercules Poirot, Spa’s most punctilious, albeit fictitious, resident would never have approved of the state of affairs as the Tour Peloton entered his Belgian birth home today.  Grime, blood and ripped team strips followed the nervousness of the riders.

Of the nine riders on the Garmin-Transitions team, including Farrar, five crashed in the stage.Garmin / Transitions sent at least three riders to hospital after the stage.  

Farrar crossed the finish line more than 19 minutes behind the stage winner. Tyler may have broken his left arm.

Christian Vande Velde was also sent to the hospital for X-rays.Another of Farrar’s teammates that crashed, Robbie Hunter, “leveraged” Twitter to voice his opinions.

Sylvain Chavenel (Quick Step) won the stage and is in Yellow.  I find myself pleasantly pleased to see this Frenchman in Yellow.  Chavanl was left in tears, and I can’t blame him.  Sylvain has previously won a stage at the tour and is the former French road champion.  He’s a classy rider and the best in the long escape. 

The big issue today was the The decent of the Col de Stockeu that was “glacial,” as Paul Sherwen would say. A classic chain reaction ensued.  One guy went down, then the next, then it was a scene out of Blades of Glory and the only one who could skate his way through was Chavanall.  As he sluffed off the remainder of the guys in the break away, and kept motoring on, the main group was less than thrilled as some big names went down or found themselves watching the carnage ahead..  Left holding his arm and his bike was Andy Schleck.  We all hope he can start tomorrow.  Lance, who went down too, wound up chasing with his new friend Alberto Contador.

“You had people everywhere. It was surreal. When I got back on my bike … I saw crash, after crash, after crash,” Armstrong said, surveying riders laid out on the ground. “It was like war.” The Ardennes forest that the riders were crossing saw some of the bloodiest fighting during World War II.  Perhaps it was a fitting reference.

Robbie Ventura managed to catch a chatty Levi Leipheimer.  Needless to say, Levi was cranky.  Here is a snippet of that chat.

Robbie Ventura: Absolutely hectic in the last miles of today, Levi, what’s your take on the race today?

Levi Leipheimer: Hectic?  that makes it sound like a card game, man. It was just ridiculous.  We’re coming down the [Col de Stockeu] and it was just chaos.  Guys crashing everywhere, motorbikes, everybody off the road.  We didnt know what was up for 10K. We didn’t know who was on the front, the back, there was no television for the directors and we just had to set the tempo for a while; we didn’t know what was going on.  We found out what was up, we had it under control and I think everyone decided that enough is enough and we’re just going to ride it in.  I think [congrats] Chavenel, he was strong, deserves it.

In one of the spills, Armstrong and defending Tour champion Alberto Contador of Spain tumbled to the asphalt on a slippery descent from the mid-grade Stockeu Pass toward the end of the 201-kilometer run from Brussels to Spa. Both sustained scrapes but finished the stage and were OK, their teams said.

“Pure happiness,” said Chavanel, contrasting the carnage of the day.

Aside from Chavanel’s vault to first place, the top standings didn’t change. Cancellara now trails the Frenchman by 2 minutes, 57 seconds, with Germany’s Tony Martin in third place, 3:07 back. Britain’s David Millar is fourth, 3:17 back, and Armstrong dropped a notch to fifth and is 3:19 back. Contador is seventh 3:24 behind.

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