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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, July 10, 2015

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

Today's Racing

Both the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) continue.

The Giro Rosa (Women's Tour of Italy) is also being raced.

Also: David L. Stanley has given Tour stages 5 and 6 his usual brilliant appraisal. I know you'll enjoy it.

Yellow Jersey Tony Martin out of Tour

Here's the Etixx-Quick Step release:

Etixx - Quick-Step rider Tony Martin will fly to BG Hospital in Hamburg immediately for surgery, and must withdraw from Le Tour de France. Martin, in the yellow jersey as race leader since a Stage 4 solo victory, was diagnosed with a collarbone fracture on the left side of his body that was suffered during a crash inside the final kilometer of the 6th Stage.

"Unfortunately, the collarbone is a lateral fracture," Team Doctor Helge Riepenhof said. "The collarbone is in lots of pieces, so it was a major impact. One of the pieces came through the skin, which means it's an open fracture. Therefore, even if it was Tony's wish to start tomorrow, I have to say he is not allowed to. Riders always want to race. Tony especially. He's shown in the last years that even with broken bones that he will race if possible. But this is a medical situation where this is impossible. He needs surgery straight away, and that is why we are going to the hospital now. We will fix the collarbone there. He is already on antibiotics. It's a serious injury, and that is why we can't risk anything and why he cannot be at the start tomorrow."

Tony Martin

Tony Martin finishing stage 6 with his teammates.

"I can't remember exactly what happened," Martin said. "The team put me in a really good position. On the last kilometer no one had the energy left to continue the speed. Everything slowed down, everyone was waiting. Then suddenly I hit the rear wheel of the rider in front of me. I thought I almost could stay upright, but then I went into a rider of Giant-Alpecin and I had no balance anymore. I crashed at relatively low speed, with my full weight on the left shoulder. I felt directly that something was broken. We went to make an X-Ray directly after the finish because i was thinking 'OK, maybe I am wrong. Maybe I can start tomorrow.' But now it is confirmed my clavicle is broken. This has been like a movie, an emotional roller coaster at this Tour. Now I am really sad.

"The team gave everything to protect the jersey today. We had again the chance to do it and try to keep it a few more days. It's really been a big success up to this point. With Stybar it was such a good moment. It's so strange to be so sad and happy together. I told Stybar to not be sad for me. I told him to enjoy his day, as he deserves it. I am sure the team will keep the morale high.

"That's the Tour de France. I really wish I could continue, to even just start tomorrow, even if it is broken. I wish I could honor the jersey and show it one last time with a ceremony at the start. I could enjoy it a little more than I have the last days and then stop. But it is now clear I need to go to the hospital for surgery immediately, and my race is over. It's hard to accept. I'd like to keep fighting. But the doctor has the last word, and when he says there is no way to continue I must accept this."

And, as expected, Chris Froome did not start stage seven in Yellow out of respect for Martin.

Other Tour de France news from the teams

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this update:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Peter Sagan took his third 2nd place of this year’s Tour de France on stage 6 to Le Havre. Despite having been caught in a tactical deadlock on the finishing straight behind stage winner Zdenek Stybar, Peter Sagan notes that he was happy with his legs and satisfied with the outcome. Alberto Contador finished safely after having barely avoided the crash within the final kilometer.

Yet again, Peter Sagan came close to the stage win in Tour de France and proved himself as one of the strongest, and not least consistent, finishers of this year’s edition so far. Despite taking his fourth top-three, Sagan remained optimistic, as he faced the famous mixed-zone of Le Tour, where journalists in heaps wanted to hear his thoughts on the finish.

“Today I demonstrated that I had good legs, but this is the race and today everybody expected me to make a move. You have to stay cool and sometimes things don’t turn out exactly how you want it to and sometimes they do. I didn’t notice the crash, but apparently it happened just behind me. Then Stybar attacked, where the climb flattened and the group didn’t have the legs. I said to the other riders that I wasn’t going to pull because they were all looking at me”, says Peter Sagan before explaining:

“If I had gone to the front to pull, I wouldn’t win the sprint. I’m still happy with my second place because it’s still some points for the green jersey, as Greipel wasn’t there. I won in the group, but the tactical situation made it very difficult, everybody knows it’s hard to win in the Tour. My strategy was to be at the front on the final climb and wait for the sprint, but there were nobody to close the gap to Stybar. I won the green jersey for three years in a row and it would be nice to do that again, but it will be difficult for sure”.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan kept his white jersey

Stage 6 offered somewhat flat terrain on the route to Le Havre, where the stage was to be decided on the final 1500 meters, where the road kicked up with a gradient of 7% before a flatter finishing straight. Despite a less hectic stage, things heated up in the fight for positioning on the final kilometer, where a big group of riders, including the yellow jersey Tony Martin, were forced to the ground in a crash. Tinkoff-Saxo Head Sport Director Steven de Jongh elaborates:

“I think that today was less hectic than the previous days and the boys did a concentrated job once again. Sagan was free to ride for the stage and he showed that he’s in very good condition. He positioned himself very well on the final climb and showed that he had the speed to pull it off today. But Stybar had different plans and he made a very clever move, while the sprinters were waiting for somebody to take responsibility”, tells de Jongh and adds:

“Peter was isolated up there in the group following the crash. That’s how it is, as we also have our focus on Alberto, but Katusha had some guys up there but they apparently didn’t want to take control. Peter took 2nd place, it’s a bit of a shame, but with that said, we are very happy that none of our riders were affected by the final crash that unfortunately cost Tony Martin a broken collarbone”.

And here's what LottoNL-Jumbo had to say about Tour stage 6:

Robert Gesink was again one of the first thirty riders to reach the line in Thursday’s sixth stage of the Tour de France. The leader of Team LottoNL-Jumbo placed 12th on the short and punchy hill in Le Havre. The Dutchman remained 14th overall.

Zdenek Stybar of Etixx-QuickStep triumphed. In the last hundred meters, the Czech attacked out of select group of riders who arrived atop of the explosive climb.

Gesink experienced a perilous moment on the climb, but was attentive. “I was in the front in order to prevent possible gaps and time differences, but right in front of me a group of riders crashed. Luckily, I managed to go beside past the pile-up,” Gesink said after seeing yellow jersey Tony Martin break his collarbone.

“On top, I was hoping for one final acceleration, but I just didn’t have it in me anymore.”

It was the sixth time in a row since the start in Utrecht that Gesink finished in the top 30 of the stage. “But that doesn’t mean a thing. We have some dangerous stages left.”

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink heads to the start of Tour stage 6

Bram Tankink had tipped Gesink as possible winner prior to the stage. “Yes, of course you always have to remain optimistic. Today’s arrival was similar to the one in Québec, where Robert once managed to win. But like he said himself, in Québec there was more climbing. Today was not too bad, though, he got in the mix and finished 12th.”

Laurens ten Dam rode without his shoulder brace for the first time since his crash and rolled through the day properly. “Today was a relatively easy day. I needed that,” Ten Dam said.

Wilco Kelderman’s back felt slightly better on Thursday. “It was a peaceful stage and the temperatures were higher. That made things a lot easier. Let’s hope that every day my situation will improve. In the final kilometres, I let go of the pack. Getting to the finish safely and recovering was the most important thing today.”

Sports Director Nico Verhoeven thinks that Ten Dam, Kelderman and Steven Kruijswijk will get some extra time to recover from their crashes on Friday. “There are many teams with victims who need to recuperate, so tomorrow I expect a stage similar to today’s. The finish is flat and the sprinters will be at it again.”

I got this Tour stage 6 report from BMC:

Le Havre, France - BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet finished fifth Thursday at the Tour de France after teammate Tejay van Garderen escaped injury when he was part of a crash that took down race leader Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) in the final kilometer.

Van Garderen was following last year's Tour de France winner, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team), when Martin crashed in front of them. Martin suffered a broken collarbone while van Garderen fell on Nibali and 2014 Giro d'Italia winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team).

"It is always dangerous with finishes like this," van Garderen said. "Uphill, there are going to be gaps. The GC (general classification) guys want to be up there but the sprinters still want to go for the stage. So getting that mix together is always pretty dangerous."

Because the crash occurred in the final three kilometers, van Garderen was awarded the finish time of the peloton, which arrived two seconds after stage winner Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step). Van Garderen remains 25 seconds behind Chris Froome (Team Sky), who is expected to wear the yellow jersey Friday for the second time since Monday. On Tuesday, Froome assumed the lead after Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) also abandoned due to injury.

Like it has been on nearly every stage in the opening week, the BMC Racing Team was formidably present at the front of the pack in the last 20 kilometers of the 191.5-km race. Rohan Dennis, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär and Swiss national road champion Danilo Wyss combined to provide an escort for van Garderen and Van Avermaet. Van Garderen said he appreciated a calmer ride than the past few days which featured cobblestones, strong winds, rain and several large crashes.

Greg van avermaet

Greg van Avermaet rides the cobbles in the 2015 Tour's fourth stage

"We spent almost the whole day on the coast, so if there would have been big winds, then it could have been a repeat of yesterday - or even worse," he said. "Luckily, we had a beautiful day with blue skies and calm winds. So it was a nice day."

Van Avermaet, who remained sixth overall and 40 seconds off the lead, said he was disappointed not to be able to contest the win. Stybar attacked just after the crash happened and no one followed.

"I had really good legs, so I was expecting a lot," Van Avermaet said. "To end up fifth is disappointing because I was aiming for first. They let people just go and nobody was reacting. Then, you are just angry at all the other guys that did not react. I was waiting, waiting, waiting and guessing that (John) Degenkolb, or (Peter) Sagan or (Alexander) Kristoff would close the gap. But they didn't. So the race was already over for me with 500 meters to go."

Van Avermaet said he did not react to Stybar's attack because he is often the first one to chase in similar situations.

"Today, I just wanted to play it a little bit smarter, just wait a little bit longer and come at a good moment," he said. "It was a bad decision, but it is a decision you have to make for yourself. It was a little bit strange that Sagan did not react, because he was in the perfect position. I was a little bit behind."

Besides van Garderen, Damiano Caruso was the BMC Racing Team's other rider who crashed Thursday. With about 35 km to go, Caruso struck a protective barrier while negotiating a roundabout. He was making his way back to the peloton after picking up a load of Elite bottles from the team car.

"Luckily, he landed pretty well," BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said. "The bottles acted as a pillow, so he had only superficial abrasions."

Lotto-Soudal's TDF news:

Today was the sixth day of the Tour de France. The peloton had to cover a stage of 191.5 kilometres from Abbeville to Le Havre, with three climbs of the fourth category. At the end there was a tough hill of 850 metres, that one made the difference. Zdenek Stybar won the stage. André Greipel remains leader of the points classification.

Three riders formed the break of the day: Quéméneur, Teklehaimanot and Vanbilsen. Notwithstanding their injuries Thomas De Gendt and Greg Henderson rode at the front of the peloton today. With twelve kilometres to go Vanbilsen had some energy left and he attacked. The peloton caught him three kilometres before the finish. In the final kilometre there was a big crash with among other GC leader Tony Martin, Vincenzo Nibali and Tejay Van Garderen. Stybar crossed the finish line first, two seconds ahead of Peter Sagan and Bryan Coquard. Tony Martin remains leader. Tony Gallopin, sixth today, is still fifth overall, at 38 seconds of Martin. Greipel picked up some points at the intermediate sprint and now he has 161 points, three more than Sagan.

Andre Greipel

André Greipel will start stage 7 in green.

Despite the severe injuries Thomas De Gendt, Greg Henderson and Adam Hansen all reached the finish line today. De Gendt decided to start even though he has a fractured rib after yesterday’s crash.

Thomas De Gendt: “Luckily the weather conditions were good today. If there had been enough wind, there could have been echelons, but that wasn’t the case. Very soon three riders escaped and it stayed pretty calm in the peloton. I rode at the front of the bunch for a while, because I thought it was safer than in the middle of the pack where there is a constant risk of crashing. Day one after the crash is over. Especially during yesterday’s stage I thought about leaving the race, but I’m happy with how it went today. From now on I look at it day by day. It’s hard to tell what the rest of the Tour will be like, maybe I can say something more after the rest day.”

Tour of Austria Reports

BMC's Rick Zabel crashed. Here's what he team had to say:

Matrei in Osttirol, Austria - BMC Racing Team's Rick Zabel bounced back from a high-speed crash to finish third Thursday at the Tour of Austria as Johann van Zyl (MTN-Qhuebeka) held on for a six-second solo win after being part of a three-man breakaway.

David Tanner (IAM Cycling) won the field sprint for runner-up honors as the peloton nearly closed a 44-second gap in the last three kilometers of the 175-km race.

Rick Zabel

Rick Zabel

The crash happened with about 35 km to go when Zabel said he touched wheels with a teammate while riding near the front of the peloton on a high-speed descent. More than three dozen riders went down, leading race officials to stop the breakaway - which was more than two minutes up the road - until the peloton could regroup. Upon the re-start with 19 km to go, the breakaway was given its same advantage and van Zyl eventually soloed away from his two counterparts.

"You have to say the guys in front were lucky because of the big crash," Zabel said. "All the time the race was stopped, the guys in the breakaway were able to go 15 kilometers pretty easy and recover. Then we were standing there two-and-a-half minutes waiting to start. But that's cycling."

BMC Racing Team's Brent Bookwalter was also in the top 10 for the fourth time this week, in ninth.

With three days to go, Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) leads BMC Racing Team's Ben Hermans by two seconds. Fourteen other riders are within two minutes of the lead, including Bookwalter in eighth (at 47 seconds) and teammate Dylan Teuns in 16th (at 1:49).

BMC Racing Team's Dr. Dario Spinelli said Zabel's injuries amount to road rash on his left knee, elbow and hip.

The winner of Tuesday's stage said he should be able to start Friday's race, which finishes atop the Kitzbüheler Horn mountain.

"It is not so bad," Zabel said. "I can keep going, I think."

Tinkoff-Saxo had bad luck at the Austrian Tour:

Three Tinkoff-Saxo riders were involved in today’s big bunch pile-up on stage 5 of Tour of Austria, where no less than 50 riders had to face the tarmac. Pawel Poljanski, sixth in the GC, and Evgeny Petrov were able to continue, while Bruno Pires unfortunately broke his collarbone. The stage was won by Johann Van Zyl in a bunch sprint.

After counting the casualties of stage 5 in Austria, Bruno Cenghialta, team sports director, notes that he expects GC rider Pawel Poljanski to recover ahead of the important stage 6, while Bruno Pires will have to undergo an operation to stabilize his fractured collarbone.

“Today was not a good day. We witnessed an incredible crash in the peloton within the final part of the stage. More than 50 riders crashed at the same time and three of our guys were unfortunately affected. It was worst for Bruno Pires, who fractured his collarbone, while Pawel Poljanski and Evgeny Petrov were able to continue and finish with the peloton after the race had been neutralized for some kilometers”, comments Bruno Cenghialta and adds:

“It’s important for our chances that Pawel is not too marked by the crash. I hope, but also believe, that he will be all right tomorrow for the mountain stage, where we face Grossglockner and Kitzbühler Horn in a day that will most likely decide the race”.

Johann van Zyl

Johann van Zyl wins Tour of Austria stage 5

The stage was eventually won in a sprinter’s duel with Johann Van Zyl (MTN) taking the win. For Cenghialta however, the most important job of the day was to support the riders and especially Bruno Pires, who awaits an operation at the hospital in Lienz.

“It’s always a pity, when one of your riders has to abandon a race and face a period of recovery. Fortunately, the fracture is not complicated and he will undergo a routine operation to stabilize the fracture on his collarbone. The entire team wish him a speedy recovery and we will do our best in the remaining stages starting tomorrow”, finishes Bruno Cenghialta.


Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary