By Kirsten Robbins in Springfield, Missouri
A second consecutive crash in two days took place when the peloton entered the Tour of Missouri stage two finale circuits. The accident eliminated some of the nation's top sprinters from a rare opportunity to challenge Mark Cavendish of Team Columbia.
"Accidents are a part of field sprinting," said Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast sprinter Alex Candelario, who was looking forward to testing his legs in a sprint against the stellar field. "The stages have been a little easier so I think there are people in the mix at the end who just don't have the handling skills to be there at that point of the race."
The crash happened as the riders approached the start of the final two finishing circuits when the sprinter teams rallied for good position at the front of the field. Approximately twelve riders went down, including Candelario and other notable sprinters such as Frank Pipp (Health Net-Maxxis) and Sebastian Haedo (Colavita-Sutter Home).
"We started to line up our train and when I looked back to see if all the riders were there, someone collided with me," said Haedo, a formidable sprinter who has just returned to the peloton after a broken wrist suffered at the Triple Crown series in June. "The bad luck just keeps continuing."
The accident did not only disrupt the sprinters, but also several riders in contention for the overall. Such riders included Rory Sutherland (Health Net-Maxxis), Tom Danielson (Garmin-Chipotle) and Cesar Grajales (Rock Racing). Sutherland and Danielson rejoined the peloton with no time loss. However Grajales lost time in the overall battle.
"I went down yesterday and today," said Grajales, Rock Racing's general classification contender. "I don't know what caused the crash, but I just saw some riders went down in front of us and there was nothing we could do to avoid it. I was thinking that I could do a good time trial tomorrow because it is a very hilly course. But, after crashing twice in a row, I don't think so."
The crash was the second incident to mar the finishing circuits, after the previous stage's upset. All riders involved escaped severe injuries with the only loss for some being that of the time on general classification.