2012 Tour de France - The First Week
Tour de Crash.
the finale of the race, sprinters don't get the same love on the terrain they hate - the mountains. Who said bike racing is fair? That said, when have we ever seen a muti-rider pile-up at the summit?
Lately we haven't seen too much pace slowing when there is a crash. Back in the early days of the sport its "patrons" led the bunch. That was Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and more recently Lance Armstrong. These three examples of riders were not only dominant riders of their time, but they had a dominant personality to match. If they said the peloton was to ride slow, the peloton rode slow. Today there isn't a patron wielding that type of strong leadership.
What happens when a team breaks the unwritten code of slowing for a fallen leader? Officially nothing - that's bike racing. However, eventually the team that broke the détente will need help: their rider crashes, someone needs a wheel or bottle. Or perhaps they are caught at the back during a crosswind. Riders' memories are long and the offending team will be shown no mercy when their rider goes down or perhaps rides them into the gutter during a cross wind. Revenge is a dish best served cold.
The three kilometer rule saved Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins at the end of stage 3 as he was caught up in a crash on the uphill. Wiggins was in the front group when he hit the deck, so he received the same time as Sagan.
While Liquigas-Cannondale were the big winners Team Sky lost a rider in crash. Belarussian Kanstantsin Siutsou crashed with about 40 kilometers remaining. Some might remember that Siutsou won the final Tour de Georgia in 2008. He sealed his Georgia victory by taking the stage on the steep road to Brasstown Bald.
The result of the crash was a fractured tibia bone in Siutsou's left leg. This bad luck ripples into the team as riders will have to pick up the load he would have carried, which adds a bit more strain to the squad. To win the Tour the less stress and strain to a team the better. Siutsou would have been a capable lieutenant in the mountains and his absence will leave a chink in the Sky armor.
Stage 4 of this year's Tour de France was one for the sprinters. Sure it had a couple of category 4 climbs, but nothing that would prevent the fast men of the peloton from fighting for the day's victory.
We had the obligatory breakaway group of no-hopers going up the road that was caught at ten kilometers remaining. All eyes were on Cavendish, Greipel and Goss.
Curiously Greipel didn't contest the intermediary sprint. Was this a sign he was saving himself for stage wins rather than trying to accumulate green jersey points?
However, this is the Tour and anything can happen. Less than three kilometers to go a huge crash took out sprinters Cavendish and Robbie Hunter.
Not to take anything away from Greipel's win, the big German easily took