By Shane Stokes in Super-Besse
Former world number one Sean Kelly was both a man for the Classics and also for the Grand Tours. The Irishman was not a climbing specialist, but could limit his losses in the high mountains when his form was good. Cyclingnews spoke to the Eurosport commentator after stage six to Super-Besse, and got his assessment of Stefan Schumacher's crash.
"Yesterday I said that Schumacher wouldn't have a chance of holding on, but when I did the final climb today I said yes, I think he had a very good chance," he said. "If he hadn't fallen over in the last 350 metres, he was certainly on for keeping the jersey. That's a huge disappointment for him and the team because without that, he could have held on to it for another two days."
Many riders lost time, amongst them Damiano Cunego (Lampre). Kelly said that the first climbing stage can throw up some surprises.
"It is always difficult with the way they race and the fact that it is the first day in the mountains, of course. It is tough to change, having been doing some very fast racing on the flat, and then suddenly going to the climbers' gears. It's hard for a lot of riders to adapt, and I think you could see the results of that today."
As Kelly suggested, it was clear from the way things unfolded that Schumacher would have kept yellow had he not fallen. Did he therefore think that the jury's decision was fair? "Well, that is the regulation," he answered. "In the mountain top finishes, you are not covered by the three-kilometre rule governing crashes or mechanical problems. It is understandable because if you allow that in there, the riders will abuse that situation on hilltop finishes like today."