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METZ, France (VN) — Cycling legend Sean Kelly says daredevil racing style is to blame for crashes like the Tour de France saw in Friday’s sprint stage.
Kelly, who now works on the Eurosport TV broadcast for Great Britain, said riders are taking more risks today than when he was a racer during his heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.
“These kinds of crashes happen, but you have to ask, how did it happen?” Kelly told VeloNews. “Nobody wants to brake anymore. Everyone is pushing to be in the top 30 riders. Everybody is taking so many risks, and they will have crashes because of that.”
The Irish two-time green jersey winner has been asking around the peloton to try to understand why these high-speed crashes happen. He says the roads are the same as when he raced, most likely even better, but there are more crashes.
“I spoke to Bernie Eisel about it last year, and he said, the guys have no fear,” he said. “There are more crashes now, more, more, more, much more. The guys are taking more risks. Every little bit of space, they try to push through. That’s what’s causing the crashes. I can only say what I am hearing from the other riders, that they are taking other risks.”
When he reviewed the GC at the end of the day, Kelly knew it was a terrible day for many, while others survived to fight another day, most notably top pre-race favorites Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
“Today is a disaster for a team like Garmin. Rabobank, also lost their GC men. That crash wiped out so many GC riders,” Kelly said. “Evans and Wiggins have both had a very good run. Then there is the fight for third place for the podium. I think Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) could be the man. It’s all about surviving the first week and staying out of danger to get to the mountains.”
Stage winner: Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) won his third stage of his Tour debut out of a reduced peloton.
Yellow jersey: Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) defended the maillot jaune yet again; he admits he’s ready to give it up, simply to avoid the post-stage press conference.
Green jersey: Sagan widened his lead after taking first-place points at the finish.
Polka dot jersey: Michael Mørkøv (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) kept the climber’s jersey in another stage that featured only one fourth-category climb, won by Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp)
White jersey: Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) widened his lead on the young rider’s jersey he’s held since day one to nine seconds over Sagan.
Best team: No changes; Sky keeps the lead.
Most aggressive rider: Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp)
Peloton: Four less
Six riders abandoned: Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Davide Vigano (Lampre-ISD), Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM), Oscar Freire (Katusha) and Imanol Erviti (Movistar), with more expected overnight.
Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank) and DS Adri Van Houwelingen (Rabobank); Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat), Cyril Gautier (Europcar) all fined 50 CHF and 20-second penalty for riding behind team cars too long Art. 12.1.040.2.2
Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) awarded same time as group after puncturing in final 3km Art 12.1.040.1.1
Crash at 37km:
Jonathan Cantwell (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank)
Robert Gesink (Rabobank)
Juanjo Cobo (Movistar)
André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol)
Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale)
Oscar Freire (Katusha)
Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat)
Denis Menchov (Katusha)
Borut Bozic (Astana)
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) — all various cuts, scrapes and bruises
Ivan Gutierrez (Movistar) — X-rays for injuries to back
Maarten Wynaants (Rabobank) — blows to throat, X-rays at hospital
Crash with 25km:
Dominik Nerz (Liquigas-Cannondale) — cuts to elbow, stitches at finish line
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) — trauma to left knee
Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ-BigMat) — cuts to left knee
Julien Fouchard (Cofidis) — multiple cuts and scrapes
Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) — dislocated elbow; re-set at the scene, transported to hospital
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) — Hard blow to the head, trauma to shoulder, left hip and left elbow; evacuated to local hospital in ambulance
Davide Vigano (Lampre-ISD) — Shoulder damage, evacuated to hospital
Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Sharp) — Transported to hospital after stage
Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) — trauma to upper chest; evacuated to hospital
Imanol Erviti (Movistar) — blows to left hip, right, multiple cuts and scrapes; transported to hospital
Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) — Transported to hospital for further exams
Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) — Shoulder trauma, transported to local hospital
Weather: More mild weather
Sunny in the morning, building clouds in the afternoon, with chances of showers, highs in the 70s F, cooler at the summits, with swirling winds from 10-20 kph.
Tomorrow’s stage: First touch with climbs
The 99th Tour de France continues Saturday with the first serious climbs of this year’s edition. The 199km seventh stage starts in Tomblaine and features a third-category at the midway point before turning into the Vosges. The stage ends atop Les Planche des Belles Filles. Not terribly long, the short climb is certainly steep enough to open up some gaps among the race leaders. The 5.9km climb has an average grade of 8.5 percent, with ramps of more than 20 percent, enough to raise the heart-rate monitors of everyone.