By John Trevorrow
Sunday was a black day for Australian cycling. Michael Rogers crashed out of the Tour de France while within reach of his first maillot jaune. "I could see the yellow, I could taste it - now it's gone," a shattered Rogers said. He almost certainly would have become the first Australian since Phil Anderson in 1981 to take the coveted golden fleece in a mountain stage.
To add to the tales of woe, Stuart O'Grady crashed very heavily and is also out with eight broken ribs, a broken shoulder and collarbone. Robbie McEwen has made it a trifecta, getting eliminated for finishing outside the time limit. "With the pain I've been suffering and the fact that it's been getting worse then, at the moment the peloton, for me, is not the place to be," said McEwen. "Since the day after the crash I haven't been able to generate the same power out of my leg."
"I always start the Tour with the aim to win a stage and then of course to finish," continued the Queenslander. "This is my 10th Tour and I finished the other nine. But when you're injured, and depending on the type of injury, sometimes riding with it can do more damage. I plan to get home recover and get back into it as soon as possible."
That means the Aussie contingent is now down to two: Cadel Evans and Simon Gerrans. Gerrans rode strongly to finish 41st, 13 minutes down. "That was terrible news about Mick and Stuey," Gerrans said. "I saw Stuey about 3 km before the crash. I was going back for bidons and Stu came past with a pocket full of bidons. As I came around a corner I saw a few guys sprawled around the road and one CSC rider who was not moving, he was wrapped around a pole. I know now that was Stuey. It was more like a battlefield than a bike race."