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The Stockeau Massacre: Damage assessment after the Tour de France’s second stage

2010 Tour de France stage 2, Chavanel and Pineau celebrate

Chavanel and Pineau celebrate

Belgian team Quick Step, and its French rider, Sylvain Chavanel, had a near perfect day Monday, taking the stage win, the yellow jersey and the climber’s jersey — and all in the team’s home country.

For just about every other team in the race, Monday was nothing short of miserable.

A series of crashes on the slippery descent of the Col du Stockeu saw nearly every top GC rider on the deck, including Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong, Fränk and Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde. Dozens of other riders were spotted in varying states of disarray.

It all started when Lampre rider Francesco Gavazzi crashed out of the breakaway on the Stockeu. A TV motorcycle then crashed while avoiding hitting Gavazzi, and the bike spilled oil on the road. The oil had time to run down the hill by the time the peloton came through a few minutes later, setting off a dangerous domino effect that saw over 60 riders sliding across the road.

Here’s a look at how some teams fared:

Garmin-Transitions: One of the hardest hit, with five riders crashing, including Julian Dean, Tyler Farrar and Christian Vande Velde, who left the Tour after X-rays revealed broken ribs. Robbie Hunter also crashed, while David Millar reportedly hit the deck three separate times.  Farrar crossed the line 20 minutes behind Chavanel, heavily bandaged and in tears, and along with Dean and Vande Velde, went to the hospital for x-rays immediately following the stage. Farrar and Dean have no broken bones and will continue.

RadioShack: Lance Armstrong, Andreas Kloden and Levi Leipheimer crashed. None were seriously injured. “There was something on the road,” Armstrong said. “We just couldn’t stay on our bikes…. It was more of a slide. I’ve got some good abrasions. It was so slippery that you just slid, so not much swelling. It was mostly abrasions. I will feel fine tomorrow… It seems that almost everybody crashed. Everyone will be banged up tomorrow. Between today and yesterday, the vast majority of the peloton has been on the ground at least once.”

Saxo Bank: GC contenders Fränk and Andy Schleck each crashed and put in a massive effort to chase back on, with the help of the stoic Jens Voigt, while race leader Fabian Cancellara sacrificed his yellow jersey in order to help his teammates get back into the bunch. “The first thing on my mind after the crash was Andy and Fränk. They are our captains, and of course, I want to show solidarity, respect and loyalty to them and to the race by waiting, even though I lost the jersey,” Cancellara said. “It was the right thing to do, to wait, so everybody comes together to the finish line together. When you have everybody on the ground and people five minutes behind because they can’t find their bike then it’s only normal.”

2010 Tour de France stage 2, Frank Schleck

Frank Schleck at the finish.

BMC Racing: Cadel Evans, George Hincapie and Mauro Santambrogio all crashed, with Hincapie going down twice in 200 meters. All three have road rash, but nothing broken. “It was a straight road, downhill, with oil on it, and the whole peloton went down,” Evans said. “Sorry to the public for not racing. But it would not have been fair to the many who were injured.”

Milram: Nearly totally avoided the crashes. Niki Terpstra was the only team rider involved, crashing on the Stockeu descent. “The riders themselves made the decision, to show their respect for the crashed riders,” said team manager Gerry van Gerwen. “But you must also see the other side. The fans, who stand along the road to see cycling, and for the sponsors and the race organizers, who invest so much in the Tour de France — they also deserve respect.”

Cervélo TestTeam: All riders managed to get through the crashes, and the team was upset with the peloton’s decision not to contest the finish. “I feel frustrated by what happened today,” said Thor Hushovd. “Our team was working hard and we would have had a good chance for victory. I feel like they have taken something away from us today. There were a few sprinters who did not make it to the front group, but there was no reason not to contest the sprint. Everyone made a gentleman’s agreement not to sprint, but I lost an important opportunity to try to win the stage and gain points.”

Team Sky: Simon Gerrans, Bradley Wiggins and Michael Barry all came down and received mostly surface injuries, the team said. “It was ridiculously slippery,” said Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford. “They were coming down the last couple of descents and there were guys in the trees. It was carnage in the true sense of the word. Sixty guys must have crashed in different places.”

HTC-Columbia: None of the team’s eight remaining riders crashed.

Astana: Seven of the team’s nine riders crashed, including Alberto Contador. Others included Alexander Vinokourov, David de la Fuente, Maxim Iglinskiy, Paolo Tiralong and Jesus Hernandez, who crashed twice. Only Dani Navarro and Benjamin Noval managed to avoid the pileup. Contador has suffered a blow and abrasions on the right hip, knee and elbow. “On this road it was impossible not to fall. I fell on a straight part at about 60kph and when I thought about what could have happened, I saw that at every turn there were people on the ground; it was impossible to go without falling.”

Cofidis: Samuel Dumoulin, Amael Moinard and Sébastian Minard all crashed.

Katusha: Russian Vladimir Karpets and Aussie sprinter Robbie McEwen both crashed. McEwen went to the hospital to have a deep wound in his elbow treated.

Footon-Servetto: Basque rider Iban Mayoz was the only rider in the massive crash during the descent of the Côte de Stockeu. However, the rider from Azpeitia had only minor bruises and finished safely in a small group behind the leaders.

Liquigas: GC co-captain Roman Kreuziger also crashed, though Ivan Basso, who crashed Sunday, did not. “I was at the front of the peloton and suddenly there were riders on the road and I had no time to hit the brakes,” Kreuziger said. “I hit my right knee pretty bad, but I am hoping I can get some massage tonight and be ready for tomorrow.”

Rabobank: Dutch climber Robert Gesink broke a bone in his right arm. His team did not announce that he was leaving the Tour, but it seems likely.

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  • bill
    How do they not have a plan to protect the riders from an oil spill from one of the tour motorcycles crashing. That is not "part of bike racing it is like having a unannounced pit in the middle of the track in the olympics and not telling the sprinters they might fall down a hole. Everyone should be speaking up about what an incredible blunder by the tour organizers this was. Not the course, but the way they had not plan to protect the riders from an oil spill during the race. We want to see the best cyclists in the world compete and the athletes should have been protected from this catastrophe.
  • Le_soigneur
    If this stage had been dry, nobody would have been complaining and the stage would have been raced.
    The organisers cannot legislate for how slick that descent was.

    I can see some point to waiting for the crashed people to get back on but there was no reason to refuse to race the run-in. There were loads of crashes on stage 1 in the dry - the bunch is always twitchy in the first week of the tour and I can remember plenty of tours that had worse weather and more crashes in the first week. To not race the latter part of the stage makes a mockery of the race and seriously undermines the credibility of the tour.
  • Reeceh
    the page needs updating as it says that tyler farrar has no broken bones, when a release from the team states that he has broken his wrist
  • Rok
    What about the other teams (Lampre, FDJ, AG2R, Quickstep, Caisse de Epargne etc.). Did they crashed or no?
  • Maybe Cancellara's motor got stuck.
    I keed! I keed!
  • Bikerchick4260
    I can't say how much respect Ihave for Fabian for how he neutralized the entire peleton (short of Chavanel) was nothing short of amazing..I LOVE that guy!!!!
  • Auscallahan
    The cynic in me just wonders whether Cancellara woudl have done the same if it had NOT been members of his own team that were affected - and his team captains especially. If the crash had been less spectacular and only a couple of other GC riders like Evans and Basso on other teams who fell over, would he have organised the slow down then ? - somehow i very much doubt that. The team that gained the most from the slow down was - Saxo Bank. Maybe it was a noble gesture driven from respect for ALL GC riders but i think it was mainly self serving for his team.
  • Blooddoper
    Oil, it was not oil that spilled it was Le Tour's supply of EPO, Sacrebleu!
  • Max_vain
    Is it plausible that a french supporter/prankster sabotaged today's stage by dumping oil on the decent? Its said that the road was fine when the front group passed.
  • CaliTourFan
    While I understand the discussion regarding stage 2 and the controversy surrounding it, I am curious why the riders are not more upset by the set up of stage 1. Well before the finish of stage 1 the announcers on Versus talked about the run in to the finish and the 160 degree, hairpin turn 2k from the finish. As soon as they said that, I said to myself, "there's gonna be a crash there", and sure enough there was. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that with a flat stage (and the first stage of the race) designed for a sprint finish, some riders were going to hit that corner too fast and ride out and take others with them. And sure enough that's what happened. It was fortunate that more riders didn't go down at that point. I don't understand how the organizers couldn't foresee that and how the riders weren't more upset.

    Today's stage was a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. Generally I agree with the sentiment that its a race and they should race, but if the crashes were caused by oil on the road then something should have been done. It depends on which side of the argument you are on, you can find a parallel in another sport to make your case. Even within car racing, as someone pointed out, yes they neutralize if there is oil on the course, but I am sure there have been countless times where someone got crashed out due to another driver and the officials don't do anything. But the point is, unlike stage 1, going into stage 2, you couldn't reasonably anticipate the problems that occured, whereas on stage 1 it was relatively obvious.
  • Aenimatow21
    stoic Jens Voigt???????? yeah maybe compared to Mario Cipollini.
  • CycoCycle
    Nice to see about all the teams, great job velonews.

    Now on to stage 3. I would tell my team go to the front and stay if you can - oush the pace.
    break up the field if you have a GC man in for the yellow.

    Now the one in the yellow should just attack, and get has much time has he can!
  • Those little blows, as they are not that big for now, but as days come they become a hazard, remember that Tour where Ulrich got a cut in the opening stage on the neck, it haunted him along the tour and never felt comfortable and cost him the Tour, hope that the Contador and Schlecks brs. blows are not a matter to be worried as the bog climbs come...
  • Those little blows, as they are not that big for now, but as days come they become a hazard, remember that Tour where Ulrich got a cut in the opening stage on the neck, it haunted him along the tour and never felt comfortable and cost him the Tour, hope that the Contador and Schlecks brs. blows are not a matter to be worried as the bog climbs come...
  • Ashley
    Congrats to Chavanel but the rest of the stage sucked. Every time a Grand Tour goes through this area the organizers make it too much like the Spring Classics and too dangerous. Vuelta crash coming into Liege, Giro carnage and now Tour chaos. If the riders wanted to ride the Classics, they would in April. If the viewers wanted to watch the Classics they would in April. It's July, it's TDF time.
  • kmk100mi
    Thank you for the thorough review. Couldn't find this info anywhere else!
  • There's something that is almost unknown. It was Team Astana who first decided to wait. Alberto didn't make a big deal of it but it shouldn'd be unsaid. Other teams agreed (some not) and Cancellara directed the whole action. He still was wearing the Yellow Jersey and his leaders were in trouble. -- So it's ok that he did what he did.
    .
  • And how do you know this??
  • Accfgme
    Wow! You can sure tell that the majority of this group are so new to cycling that they should still be in diapers! There are 'unwritten' rules within the Peloton and probably the biggest is that you don't take advantage of a top GC contender under 'unfair' conditions and this wasn't just A top GC contender - it was pretty much all of them. You see this mostly when a top rider has to take a 'nature' stop. It is unheard of for a rival and/or a rival team, to immediately put pressure on the Peloton. On that same rule, with a massive crash like what happened today, those that managed to not crash or at least get by without too much damage, are honor bound to NOT take advantage of the situation. Check your Tour history and you'll find example after example of the Peloton doing a major slow down if the possibility exists that a top GC contender can make it back to the group if they've flatted or fallen. For the many of you who don't know enough about cycling to know about this 'code of honor', check this link: http://articles.latimes.com/2003/jul/23/sports/sp-tour23. Yes, it was written in 2003 but the article expresses the idea better than any other I've seen.

    A couple of other points here:
    - if you're going down hill in a group of 100+ riders, first off, you have keep pace with those around you or you will be the cause of the accident; secondly, you can being going 5 mph but if in a matter of seconds a wall of anything is placed directly in front of you - you are going down. It PHYSICS, look it up.

    - there was so much confusion because of the crashes (plural) that almost no one knew who was up or down or had gotten through. One who had the best grasp was Cancellara since he made it through. The team directors didn't know, Phil and Paul didn't know, the riders who went down didn't know unless other riders had crashed next to them. The HTC director thought Andy was out of the race. The directors don't talk to each other so they only know what they have actually seen or what their riders tell them. There were a LOT of riders who didn't get replacement bikes immediately (A Schleck took a teammates), or medical treatment because the team cars couldn't get through fast enough and I believe there is only 1 medical car and there were a lot more than 1 who needed treatment. Since most of the crashes were under the trees and some of the motorbikes had gone down as well, few cameras had a decent look at what was happening nor was there really anyone, including race officials, who was able to see enough to know the extent of the carnage. Even with that, race officials should have neutralized the race as soon as anyone in with authority to do so was told what happened.

    - Lvergne, I have no idea of what race you were watching, but you're full of crap! There were multiple crashes and Contador and Vino were not one of the first to get going. Other than those that got through without or with little mishap, all the other riders were in ones and twos and slowly began to mass together. Armstrong, Contador, Vino and others became a chase group as they reached each other but it was still about 10+ minutes before that group managed to catch up with Cancellara's group and Cancellara's group wasn't moving that fast.

    - as for waiting for VV, everyone in the Peloton knew that he was already riding with injured ribs, when he wasn't with any of the groups that managed to become the Armstrong/Contador and eventually Schleck's group, it was most likely thought that he was out for good. There is an honor code but if given a reasonable amount of time to rejoin and having no information that a specific person is even trying, than you do go on. But even when Armstrong/Contador/Schleck's group caught up with Cancellara's group they all decided not to actually race mostly because many of those who managed catch on still weren't in any shape to really do so.

    This is a comment section and people may post what they wish but seriously, try not show how much you DON'T have a clue what you're talking about!
  • Lvergne
    Accfgme, I am glad to see that you are the ultimate scholar and all knowing one for cycling. Thank you for setting everybody straight. As for your respectable comment to my post, thank you very much. But you may want to consider speaking about events when you are actually THERE as I was standing on the side of the road witnessing what I stated at the Stockeu. Have a nice day.
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