Riders remaining: 184
Distance: 182.5 km
- Côte des Grande-Châtelaines 1.5 km; 6.7%; 4 category
- Côte de Domecy-sur-Cure 1.3 km; 6.2%; 4 category
- Côte de Champignolles-le-Bas 2.0 km; 6.5%; 3 category
- Côte de Coulon 1.0 km; 6.2%; 4 category
- Côte de Saint-Maurice 3.0 km; 5.2%; 3 category
- Côte de Château-Chinon 2.5 km; 3.8%; 4 category
- Haut-Folin 12.9 km; 3.7%; 2 category
- Côte de la Croix de la Libération 3.4 km; 5.4%; 3 category
It was a fast-paced, exciting, and sad time on the roads of France today. The average speed of the peloton hovered around 40-50 mph on some of the flatter portions of the undulating course; the eight climbs of the day worked to break up and reunite the group again and again, while the hairpin descents challenged some riders, like Yaroslav Popovych of Team Discovery Channel and race leader Fabian Cancellara of Team CSC, to push their skills in an effort to gain time on their closest rivals; other competitors had difficulties the likes of which no one desired to experience, namely crashes.
After three or four hours of racing, Andreas Kloden of Team Astana landed in the grass on the left shoulder of the road, the result of a collision with a few other riders. Race video wasn’t clear on how the crash occurred, just how long it took the competitor to remount his bike (quite a while). A post-race report from Phil Ligget, the “Voice of Cycling,” who commentates for the Versus channel, had this to say about the rider’s condition:
…it is feared that Kloden has broken his coccyx (small bone at the base of the spine) in his crash…Not long after the race medical staff completed their examination and treatment of Mr. Kloden, Geoffroy Lequatre of Team Cofidis went down in the feed zone, that area for the race where riders pick up their “feed bags,” small cloth bags filled with high-energy foods prepared by their team staff members (hey, any man who rides a bike for six hours/day needs a snack once in awhile!). Like Andreas Kloden, it took some time for Mr. Lequatre to rejoin the peloton.
The final nasty crash of the day involved Kloden’s team leader, Alexander Vinokourov. He hit the deck hard ~20km from the finish line. Again, race video did not catch the crash itself, only the aftermath. Mr. Vinokourov had torn bike shorts on his upper right thigh/hip area, along with a large bruise and some scrapes in the same location. His elbow was also bleeding. Like Kloden, he finished the race; unlike Kloden, he fought to reunite with the peloton until the very end. Sadly, Vinokourov never made it, losing one minute, twenty seconds to the leader, time that will be need to be regained if he wishes to remain in contention for the yellow jersey.
After the race, both Vinokourov and Kloden visited the hospital for x-rays and a check-up to see if they had any broken bones. If serious injuries are confirmed, these riders may be headed home to watch their rivals on television. How sad.
Team Discovery Channel status
In stark contrast to Team Astana, the “Disco Boys,” as I have heard them called of late, had a great day. Yaroslav Popovych surprised everyone with a speedy (and somewhat nerve-wracking) descent off one of the last climbs. He actually left the roadway at one point, riding into the grassy shoulder after misjudging a hairpin turn. No worries, though, he remained upright and on his bike, quickly returning to the peloton.
George Hincapie came in sixth on the stage, which put him back into fifth place in the overall classification. A great ride for Vladimir Gusev kept him in the white “youth” jersey as well, and moved him up into sixth place overall, directly behind George. Levi Leipheimer, the team leader, remains in 22nd place overall, biding his time until the big mountains hit in a few days time. No doubt about it, the second week of racing should prove to be just as exciting as the first.
Race Withdrawals To Date
- Brett Lancaster (Australia)
- Remy Di Gregorio (France)
- Xabier Zandio (Spain)
- Tomas Vaitkus (Lithuania)
- Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (Spain)