Insiders denounce the route of the Tour de France stages “incredibly dangerous” – VeloNews.com

0
138


« ], » filter « : { » nextExceptions « : » img, blockquote, div « , » nextContainsExceptions « : » img, blockquote « }} »>

Everyone expected the crosswinds to dominate the action on the 10th stage of the Tour de France at Île de Ré on Tuesday. Instead, accidents have taken a place before.

Tuesday’s pan-flat stage on the west coast of France took the riders on a tedious course with more roundabouts, street furniture and pinch points of the more technical Belgian fair.

With the peloton on red alert for crosswinds and the fight for position in the peloton fiercer than ever, the tension picked up and inevitably the crashes came thick and fast.

Dozens of riders have fallen, including GC contenders Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates), as well as workhorses and key stage hunters such as Nielson Powless (EF Pro Cycling) , Sam Bewley (Mitchelton-Scott), Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), Nicholas Roche (Sunweb) and Pogacar winger Davide Formolo.

Pogacar and Martin were lucky enough to come out relatively lightly. This is not the case for Formolo and Bewley, whose races were interrupted respectively by a broken collarbone and wrist.

Even before the start of the race from Château d’Oléron on Tuesday morning, the course had been criticized as the race leaders reconstituted a stage which would achieve the rare feat of allowing a start and a stage finish on two islands. EF Pro Cycling boss Jonathan Vaughters was one of the first to issue a warning, calling the scene “incredibly dangerous”.

With France’s Atlantic coast known for its high winds and a strong breeze blowing, the importance of being at the front of the pack is picking up. Only a limited number of runners can be in the front at a time, and as the road widened and narrowed, split and twisted, crashes happened quickly.

“The course was really dangerous in a lot of places,” said Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

“You know that it will be windy, you know that everyone wants to be in front of this stage, it will be nervous and then we will cross a lot of villages with street furniture. It creates dangerous situations and it just wasn’t safe.

Van Aert and his team-mate Primož Roglič remained on their feet during the nervous 169 kilometers of the race. The Tour Powless rookie was less fortunate, caught up by the stack that ended Bewley’s race.

“I don’t know what really caused the fall, but everyone was super tight and packed in there,” Powless said after the stage.

“I hit my elbow pretty well, but it doesn’t feel too deep. There was certainly a lot of road and roundabout furniture after the roundabout, but I think ultimately the accidents were not due to the road furniture. It was because everyone was jostling each other to position themselves on a fairly straightforward wide road with a few cross winds. It definitely made the race quite stressful, but I’m not sure how many crashes happened because of it.

Whether the crashes were caused by a tedious route or by growing nerves in the peloton, many were reluctantly willing to accept the fact that these sketchy runs are the inevitable byproduct of open road racing.

“To be honest, it was what we expected,” EF Pro Cycling sporting director Charly Wegelius said of the crash-ridden race. “You have a course like this in a race like this, and there is going to be collateral damage.”

Cofidis leader Martin, currently third in the GC, was left with what he describes as back pain after falling in an accident and was also resigned to the situation.

“The circuit was particularly dangerous, by the sea, with islets and roundabouts,” he said. “It’s part of modern cycling, the roads are made like that.”

Sam Bennett took the win after just under four hours of racing. Anyone who has walked through the race without tasting the tarmac will likely consider themselves a winner as well.



LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here