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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. - Samuel Johnson

Current racing:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage three team reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Caleb Ewan out of Tour de France with collarbone fracture

Ewan's Lotto-Soudal team sent me this bad news:

Lotto Soudal’s leader Caleb Ewan will be unable to take the start in stage four of the Tour de France. Following a crash in the final stretch of stage three in Pontivy, X-rays revealed a displaced complex fracture of the right collarbone. On Wednesday, Caleb Ewan will undergo surgery in Monaco.

“I don’t remember too much of the crash as it all happened in an instant”, reacts Caleb Ewan. “I remember that I wanted to start my sprint quite early in the chicane. We began sprinting on the left and when I started my sprint, I saw that the guys on the front were closing to the right so I had to stop my effort and then hope for it to open up again. When all of this happened, I came next to Peter Sagan and we were quite close on the wheel. And when Merlier went against the right, I touched the wheel… Pretty soon, I realized my Tour de France was over. Usually when you crash, you don’t feel too much pain because of the adrenaline rush. But straightaway, I was in a lot of pain and as the medical staff were pressing on my collarbone, I felt it clicking so I immediately knew something wasn’t right.”

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan have just gone down. Sirotti photo

Although it’s a major disappointment for Caleb Ewan, the 26-year-old Australian already looks ahead towards the next goals.

“It’s my first time I’ve broken a bone. They told me it is broken in four spots and I need to have surgery to put it back into place. Out of all the bones you can break, I think a collarbone fracture is maybe the easiest to recover from. Unfortunately, this is a part of cycling. I need to let it heal and make plans for the future. There should be plenty of time to let it heal towards La Vuelta, so hopefully this can still be a goal of mine this year.”

With Caleb Ewan, Lotto Soudal loses its leader for the sprint stages.

“Obviously, a lot of the team was built around me so it is really hard to be out of the race so soon. But the guys are all really strong and they can definitely show something the coming weeks”, concludes Caleb Ewan.

Here's the report from Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The climbs of the first two days of the Tour de France weren’t the toughest the riders would encounter in the race, but their positioning made it difficult for the sprinters to contest the win. There would be no such difficulties on stage 3, the 182.9km parcours featuring only two fourth category climbs and a flat run to the finish line in Pontivy.

While the polka dot jersey of the King of the Mountains was on loan to Ide Schelling from the race leader, who held the lead in both contests, Ide jumped into the break for a third successive day to make the maillot à pois his own. This group of five built up a lead of more than three minutes before the peloton started working to keep them in check, the gap dropping to a little more than two minutes as the climbs approached. While there was only one point available at the top of each of the fourth category climbs, Ide knew that just one point was enough to win back the jersey. Taking this on the first ascent, the Dutch rider dropped back to the peloton to provide support for Peter Sagan for the day’s predicted sprint finish, as the speeds in the peloton cut the lead of the remaining breakaway riders down to less than a minute with 20km to go.

The speeds were incredibly high as the sprint teams ate away at the last few seconds of the break’s lead, and in spite of their best efforts, the peloton passed the trio on the front as though they were standing still, with a little less than 6km to go, only for a crash to create a split in the lead group, the Slovakian national champion lucky to be ahead of this.

Picking his way through the bunch, Peter looked to be in the perfect position to go for the win, only to be taken out by Ewan sliding out in front of him on the final corner. With the finish line in full view from the point of the crash, Peter could only think about what could have been. On a day marred by crashes and splits, Wilco Kelderman crossed the line in 26th position to hold fifth place in the GC, with Emanuel Buchmann following soon after and Peter coming in safely to finish the stage.

 Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan is back up on his bike after the crash. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"We were expecting a nervous and tense stage but this one became absolutely hectic after the intermediate sprint. I was feeling well, the guys, and especially Niels, did a fantastic job in keeping me safe and positioning me for the sprint. I was in a very good place in the final stretch to the finish line, ready to contest the stage, but, unfortunately, I crashed with Caleb Ewan. I managed to get up, ride my bike and cross the finish line but, of course, it wasn't the way I wanted. I hope all riders involved in the day's crashes are OK." – Peter Sagan

"I'm happy to gain the polka dot jersey back. It was my third stage out of three in the breakaway and I could say it was by far the easiest. Straight from the gun, I went away with four more riders who were kind enough to let me take the point in the first KOM. After I got the jersey and my mission was completed, I went back to the peloton and see what I could do for my teammates. I hope everybody is doing well after this hectic and crash-marred finale. It's never nice to come back to the bunch and see your teammates hit the ground. For me personally, it's incredible to be wearing such a jersey in my first Tour de France. It was a dream that came true on the first stage, unexpected, and it's still difficult to realise it's happening." – Ide Schelling

"It was another stressful day that turned hectic after the intermediate sprint. Daniel brought me perfectly into the narrow part but it then became crazy. There were crashes left and right. Peter was well in front but, unfortunately, crashed as well. In the end, it wasn't a good day for us, but we have to turn the page and forget it. Hopefully, everybody is OK and we can move on." – Wilco Kelderman

"Peter had a crash in the last corner before the finish and was sliding for a very long time over the concrete. He has quite deep cuts on his right hip and a very big hematoma. It will definitely take a while to get rid of the bruises and hematoma but we'll see in the next days." – Christopher Edler, Head Doctor

"Today we had a very clear plan. Firstly, Ide was to fight for the polka dot jersey. He did a very good job, took one point, and is back again in the lead in the mountain classification, which makes us happy. Afterwards, the focus shifted to Peter and the expected sprint finish but also to positioning well our GC leaders. Again, everybody put in a strong effort, worked spotlessly and they were always in the front positions. Peter was in an excellent spot in the final 300 metres but, unfortunately, he crashed with Ewan. He finished on the ground while he should have been fighting for the stage win." – Jan Valach, Sports Director

Green Jersey owner Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team post this report:

Stage 3 of the race should have been a calm one that everyone was expecting to deliver the first battle between the peloton’s fast men, but it ended up being a crash-ridden day that took its toll on many of the riders. Two crashes, both inside the final ten kilometers, took dozens of riders down while spelling the end of many of the sprinters’ hopes of fighting for victory in Pontivy, where the race concluded for the first time in history.

Another incident, this time on the finishing straight, slowed down Davide Ballerini and Julian Alaphilippe, both in the mix at that point, who finished fourth and sixth respectively. The latter remained at the top of the points classification and continued to sit in second place, just a few seconds off the overall lead.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe finishes with GC leader Mathieu van der Poel close by. Sirotti photo

A few minutes later, Mark Cavendish came home. The Brit was left unscathed after being caught up behind the crash that happened with ten kilometers to go and took us through those crazy final kilometers: “I am fortunate to be ok. I didn’t come down, but for a moment there I thought I would crash. Luckily, I managed to put my foot on the ground and avoided it, but my front wheel was destroyed as I lost several spokes. It was a very stressful day, more than it normally is at the Tour de France.”

Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels also talked about the crash-filled stage 3 in Bretagne: “With these narrow roads, you just knew it was going to happen. You didn’t even need a rider to do something wrong when you have road furniture and a peloton traveling at 60km/h. The first stages of the race need bigger roads to avoid this kind of situation, because everything is so nervous. Also, a solution must be found so that the time of the peloton is taken earlier, with ten kilometers to calm things a bit and free more space in the bunch.”

Here's the report from Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

The third stage of the Tour de France has ended in a disappointment for Team Jumbo-Visma. In the beginning of the stage Robert Gesink had to abandon the race with a collarbone fracture. In the last ten kilometres Primoz Roglic and some of his teammates crashed. The Slovenian rider suffered physical damage and lost a lot of time.

So far, the 2021 Tour de France is one that will go down in the books as a Tour with a hectic overture. After forty kilometres Gesink crashed hard. The unfortunate Dutchman suffered a collarbone fracture. He was forced to abandon the race. Tony Martin could not avoid the crash, but the time trialist was able to continue.

In the last twenty kilometres, the sprinter teams and the classification riders were keen to ride at the front. The final was known to be dangerous. At ten kilometres from the finish it went wrong at the front. Again, Team Jumbo-Visma had several riders hit the asphalt, with Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk as the main victims. Later in the final two more crashes happened.

On the finish line in Pontivy, the damage was quite significant. Roglic lost more than a minute on his direct competitors. Wout van Aert missed the connection with the front group due to the turmoil. The Belgian champion eventually rode to 15th place in the day’s result.

Roglic made a confused impression afterwards. However, the Slovenian rider was ready to fight during the remainder of the Tour. “Today was not our best day. I’m covered in abrasions from head to toe. Fortunately, the medical examination showed that nothing is broken. Everything is still in one piece, so I will continue. Fortunately I can continue the Tour. It was a stressful final. I am not the right person to blame the organisation for this. You don’t want anyone to lie on the ground. You train so hard for a certain goal. This bad luck cannot be calculated in. It is now a matter of getting through the next few days. We will continue to fight for it no matter what.”

PRimoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic racing in this year's Tour of the Basque Country. Sirotti photo

Sports director Frans Maassen was not pleased with today’s stage. He is concerned about the physical damage to his riders. “We explored the route well beforehand. At eighteen kilometres from the finish the frenzy started because of the super narrow roads. You can certainly criticise a course like that. Beforehand, together with some other teams, we asked the jury to protect the riders and to time them at five kilometres from the finish. Unfortunately, they did not comply. We came back in pursuit to within forty seconds. Then another crash, just in front of us, ruined the race. Apart from losing a lot of time, Primoz was physically damaged. This day is a real bummer for us”, Maassen said.

Sepp Kuss saw his teammates hit the ground. “Finals like this are very dangerous. Everyone is fighting for a good position. It was a dangerous final with narrow roads. I hope Primoz and Steven didn’t suffer too much. Unfortunately we lost Robert. Ultimately it turns out to be a dramatic day for us”, the American said.

Kruijswijk’s right middle finger is stitched. Normally he will be back at the start tomorrow, just like Roglic.

Here’s the report from Richard Carapaz’s INEOS Grenadiers team:

Richard Carapaz moved up to third place overall at the Tour de France following a third stage that saw a number of contenders, including Geraint Thomas, hit the deck.

Richard Carapaz

Richard Carapaz winning stage five of this year's Tour of Switzerland.

Thomas went down early in the stage, dislocating his shoulder in the crash. It was put back in at the scene by race doctors, with the Welshman able to re-mount and finish the stage before heading for an ultrasound.

Carapaz was superbly looked after on the run-in by Luke Rowe and Michal Kwiatkowski. Using great positioning to avoid a number of further crashes, the Ecuadorian finished 13th among the sprinters and moved up to third place overall. The Grenadier now sits 31 seconds behind race leader Mathieu van der Poel.

Geraint Thomas finished 26 seconds further back as the peloton became fractured due to the crashes. Thomas finished in the same group as defending champion Tadej Pogacar, with Primoz Roglic also going down and losing time late on. Thomas moved up slightly to 18th overall, now 1:07 off yellow in the early going.

Gabriel Rasch:
"G went down and dislocated his shoulder. The race doctor put it directly back in but obviously he was in a lot of pain. He could go back on his bike and in the end he finished off the stage. Hats off to him for getting through it.

"Just after the crash he wanted to stay a little bit back in the peloton and find his feet again. After a while he could move a bit forward to the front of the group. We also had Castro with him the whole time just to make sure he was alright and to make sure he could do whatever we could to keep him in a good position on those tricky roads into the final.

"I think we were well prepared for this stage as we’ve been here to have a look at it before the Dauphine. We knew the last 18km were small roads and twisty. We were ready for it. I think the guys did a super job like nobody else can do for Carapaz. He also took risks there in the final."

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