Crashes were the order of the day in Sunday’s first stage, Rotterdam to Brussels. Lampre’s Allesandro Petacchi (Ale-Jet) was able to elude the crashes and take the first green jersey. The win was very similar to his win in June’s Tour de Suisse when Mark Cavendish and others crashed causing a pile up that essentially stopped the charging peloton.
Thor Hushovd was able to escape the crash as well taking 3rd on the day and positioning him well in the point’s competition, taking 26 points on the day. Tony Martin continues to lead the best young rider competition and Radio Shack leads the team competition. No king of the mountains jersey has been awarded yet but the first one will be awarded tomorrow with the Tour’s first climbs coming late in the stage.
The first crash of the day was caused by some inattentiveness by HTC’s Adam Hansen who likely broke his collar bone in the crash although he finished the stage. Shortly there after, a dog ran onto the course and caused notables Ivan Basso and David Millar to hit the deck. From experience you always feel a crash the next couple of days.
As the sprint began, Cervelo’s Jeremy Hunt took out Mark Cavendish and Oscar Freire coming through a turn. Just a few seconds later AG2R rider Lloyd Mondory hit Tyler Farrar just as the sprint was beginning. Although Farrar did not go down several big names including race leader Fabian Cancellara and GC favorite Alberto Contador hit the pavement.
Cancellara said “the end was insane. – I hit the ground pretty hard – tomorrow I will feel the asphalt I found at the end.” Contador was seen signing autographs at the finish and apparently escaped without any serious injury.
While Lance Armstrong was caught up in the melee, he avoided hitting the deck. Teammates Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden were not so lucky and were caught up in the K9 induced crash earlier in the day.
Tomorrow’s stage from Brussels to Spa could have a few fireworks as the final 20 kilometers includes some portions of the Liege-Bastogne-Leige course, including climbs up the Stockeu and the Rosier. While we will likely see a split in the peloton, it shouldn’t catch any of the GC men by surprise. Tomorrow could be the day for a well timed attack to escape to the end.
Weather should not be a major factor although there is a 40 percent chance of rain. The vaunted Belgian winds, which were not a factor today, should not be a factor tomorrow either. Let’s hope that nerves calm down in the peloton and we see an exciting, crash free finish.
See you tomorrow.
For more great Tour analysis, visit my good friend Tim Liew @ The Armchair Sportsfan.