Despite losing the yellow jersey on stage 2 of the Tour de France, Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) found himself at the centre of attention, leading the peloton home in a protest against the dangerous conditions the riders faced during the stage
Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) won the stage and took the yellow jersey but the day was overshadowed by a flurry of crashes on the descent of the Col du Stockeu, that saw almost half the field come down.
“At that point it was dangerous. I don’t know if there was any protest. I don’t know anything about it. Is that a protest? I think it’s more security and respect for the race,” Cancellara’s team boss, Bjarne Riis told Cyclingnews.
“In a situation like that the riders should decide for themselves on what to do. It’s those guys that are racing out there,” Riis added.
Cancellara’s teammates and general classification contenders Andy and Fränk Schleck were two of the riders who crashed. Both were struggling to make contact with the field before Cancellara moved to the front of the lead group and began calling for the field to slow and wait as a number of riders, not just the Schlecks, rejoined. Subsequently, with Chavanel already up the road and the gap increasing, Cancellara lost his overall lead. More was the follow though, as the peloton, still with Cancellara at the front, rode tempo until the finish.
“There's other things to think about than the yellow jersey,” said Cancellara. “You are also responsible for also trying to look at… There was a whole bunch on the ground ....and try to get everybody back get to the finish. When the whole bunch is on the ground it's better to stay together and go all the way to the finish together.”
While the Cancellara bunch waited the Swiss time trial world champion could be seen talking to Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) on the front of the bunch.
“Martin? We were talking. I’m not disappointed, that's the way it is. Cycling is not an individual sport, it's a team sport and the Schlecks were behind so I was waiting for them (to come back). The other reason was also to let everyone come together. I look at it positively.
“It was the right thing to do to wait, so everybody comes together to the finish line,” he added. “When you have everybody on the ground and people five minutes behind because they can't find their bike then it's only normal. I think fairness comes before being selfish.”
Cyclingnews spoke to Martin at the finish. When asked what he’d said to Cancellara the German replied: “I said, ‘I’m sorry that you’ll lose the jersey in these conditions’. It was just small talk. I think it was a good idea otherwise the big favourites would lose lots of time.”