Dutch cycling star Robert Gesink (Rabobank) still hasn't recovered from the back injuries sustained during his crash on the fifth stage of this year's Tour de France, and conceded further ground on Saturday’s stage. Gesink was understandably disappointed following his performance during the Tour's first medium mountain, stage which finished on the category 3 climb to Super-Besse, as he lost 1:08 on the other general classification riders, although he remains in the white jersey of best young rider.
“I was afraid that this would happen,” Gesink said afterwards. “When the legs don't want to do what you want them to do then it's difficult to keep up. I’m still suffering a lot from that crash. It means that I can't perform at the level I'm used to. This isn't a small stage race in which you can recover. The Tour is tough and physically demanding. This [the injuries] makes it even harder. I think I'm a better rider than what I've showed today.”
With another medium mountain stage coming up on Sunday ahead of the first rest day, Gesink could end up losing even more time during stage 9. When asked whether he might pull out of the race, Gesink’s response suggested that he had taken that decision certainly into consideration.
“This way there's isn't much fun to it,” he admitted. “A whole day long I was sitting in the wheels and when Vinokourov accelerated on that second category climb I got dropped like an old lady. I'll have to talk this through with the team this evening but to ride the Tour this way isn't fun. I'm wearing the white jersey though so that makes it different.”
Rabobank manager Erik Breukink was downhearted when talking to the press right after the stage finish. Seeing Gesink get dropped on a category 2 climb was a worrying sign for the Dutchman.
“Yesterday's stage didn't mean anything while today there was a physical effort needed to survive,” Breukink said. “A crash like the one he had isn't out of the system after one day, it affects your body much longer than that. Today's stage meant nothing if you see who was still there in front. Normally he would have been up there easily. This wasn't even a decisive stage so he really needs to recover as quickly as possible. You know the rider Robert Gesink? He doesn't get dropped when Hushovd and Gilbert are still there.”
“Garate is even worse off. He can’t get to the front. That crash is still having a major influence on how those two are performing. We'll look at how he is this evening and then we'll see how we enter the race tomorrow.”