By Brecht Decaluwé in Plumelec
The riders and managers predicted a nervous and dangerous first stage of the Tour, and for an unfortunate few, the fears proved to be true. On the twisty, hilly 197.5 kilometre route from Brest to Plumelec, Mid-way through the stage, Hervé Duclos-Lassalle, son of double Paris-Roubaix winner Gilbert, became the first rider to abandon this year's event after he got tangled up in the feed zone and broke his wrist. The French rider was transported to the hospital in Lorient for treatment.
Last year's polka dot jersey winner Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) and Silence Lotto's main lieutenant Yaroslav Popovych were the two of the biggest names who were caught up in separate crashes, but both riders could continue their race.
The bad luck for the team of Cadel Evans was doubled when Johan Vansummeren suffered a frightening run-in with a team car. The Belgian was chasing back through the following cars when the crash of Duclos-Lassalle caused the convoy to slow suddenly. Vansummeren, who was drafting behind the Columbia team car crashed into the rear window, but luckily wasn't seriously injured.
Team Columbia director sportif Rolf Aldag was in the car when it happened, and he expressed he had a bit of a fright. "We were returning to the front, but as we arrived there we had to brake and I guess Vansummeren hadn't seen that. I'm happy he isn't injured, because it could've been much worse. During the second half of the race it felt like we were driving a convertible," Aldag referred to the draught that was caused by the broken rear window.
Vansummeren was able to return to the peloton after the crash and finished in the grupetto, two minutes behind stage winner Alejandro Valverde. "I was just returning to the peloton when that car suddenly braked, which I didn't notice. Luckily I could turn away and crashed sideways into the rear window. It was quite a shock but I could continue without a problem," the Silence-Lotto rider said.
'Summie' continued to explain that he was alright, although he started to feel something in the finale. "On the final climb towards Plumelec I felt that I had less power than normal, so I'll certainly pay a visit to our physiotherapist."