IAM Cycling's Oliver Naesen was one of two riders to spectacularly overshot one of the final corners on the stage 18 Tour de France time trial, ending up with the crowd on the wrong side of the barrier. The 25-year-old escaped with a contusion on the left arm and superficial wounds to his left elbow and knee.
"I have no pain, but that's probably the adrenaline," Naesen told Sporza. “It will soon start to hurt."
The Belgian explained that having looked over the race book before the stage, he was aware of the finish but found the reality was somewhat different to course he'd seen on paper.
"I saw that there was a sharp turn at 400 meters. But from there, it seemed to me, except for a few gentle turns, it should be a straight line to the finish," he said.
"So I went hard because I was just a little in the zone. And then there was suddenly a sharp turn that I had not factored in. I braked, but it was too late. I hope I have not hurt myself."
FDJ's Jérémy Roy also overcooked the corner but a slightly less degree then Naesen as he stayed on the right side of the barriers.
Both riders remounted after their crashes with Naesen finishing in 77th place Roy meanwhile was 59th.
Meintjes up to ninth overall after Megève time trial
Lampre-Merida's Louis Meintjes is back into ninth place overall on the general classification after the 24-year-old placed ninth on stage 18 to Megève, 1:08 minutes down on stage winner Chris Froome (Team Sky). The South African climber had moved into ninth place after stage 9 to Andorra Arcalis but would drop out of the top-ten after stage 11 to Montpellier. As the Tour reaches its conclusion for another year, Meintjes is making a late run for his best grand tour result yet.
"I'm happy, especially because the result was good and because I succeeded in realizing what I had planned with the team staff in view of this stage," said Meintjes of his time trial.
Meintjes had a slow start to his first season in the WorldTour ranks with Lampre-Merida but ninth place overall at a stacked Criterium du Dauphiné suggested he was approaching his second Tour in the right shape and condition. The stage 18 time trial was one that Meintjes and the team had identified as suiting his strengths and was therefore please to have put a plan in place that all came together.
"In fact, we prepared the stage in each details, starting from the study of the course which was made by the staff on engineers from Merida, led by Juergen Falke. Together with Dr Pollastri, team's doctor and head of performance, and the sports directors Mauduit and Scirea, I programmed the management of the effort during the time trial, deciding to start without pushing too much and finishing at the maximum power.
"The bike set too was very important: I pedalled on a Merida Reacto with time trial handlebar and with 40 mm wheels," added Meintjes who is the only rider capable of overtaking Adam Yates in the battle for the white jersey. "Today was a good day for me, I hope there will be other ones from here to the end of the Tour."
Rodriguez opts for bike swap in uphill TT, finishes eighth
A successful bike switch for Joaquim Rodriguez saw the Katusha rider put in one of his best Grand Tour time trials in recent years and also improve his standing on the general classification to 11th place. The third place finisher from 2013 started the 17km course on his Canyon TT bike, opting to swap to his Canyon Aeroad CF SLX for the hilly finale which saw him finish in eighth place.
"I’m very happy. Together with my team directors we decided just before the Dauphiné, when we did the recon of these stages, to do a bike change after the flat part. That part was only 4 km, but that’s enough to put me far behind against the big TT specialists, who have more power in the legs," he said of the decision. "It was a good choice. During the change, which took some 15-20 seconds, I could recover a bit and then go on with the real climbing TT. It went well."
Rodriguez added that after the previous day in which he lost time in his bid for the top-ten, the time trial result was a confidence boost.
I am making progress. It’s a pity I lost time yesterday in the last kilometers. It was my own mistake as I forgot to eat enough, but in general I have good feelings. There are still two days for us in the mountains," he said, adding that stage 19 is likely to suit him slightly better than Saturday's stage to Morzine.
"We can go for a stage win with Zakarin and Losada as they can go in a break, or I can try something. Both upcoming stages are equal. Neither of them is better or worse for me. Only on Saturday for a stage win it will be harder for me with the descent of the Joux-Plane. It’s a really dangerous one," he said.
Joaquim Rodriguez's Canyon Aeroad CF SLX (Josh Evans / Immediate Media)
Cofidis' Nicolas Edet enjoys hour on hotseat
Nicolas Edet was a last minute call up to the Tour de France, replacing the injured Nacer Bouhanni just days before the Mont-Saint-Michele Grand Depart with the 28-year-old taking some time before finishing his grand tour legs. The climber had impressed with third place overall at the Route du Sud - la Depeche du Midi just one week before the Tour but was yet to crack the top-60 on a stage until the stage 18 uphill time trial.
An early starter, Edet covered the 17km course in 32:37 minutes to displace Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) from the hotseat. He would occupy the seat for one hour before Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) bumped him down the order with Edet eventually finishing in 22nd place.
"It was a beautiful course, a course for climbers but especially for those who still have energy at this Tour de France," Edet said. "There is nowhere to hide on such a course. In this sense I am very happy with my result. I held the top spot for an hour, it's always nice to see your name at an event of this magnitude. It will stay in my personal history.
"There are two mountain stages where I would like to enjoy myself, to help my teammates whether it’s Daniel Navarro or Arnold Jeannesson. We will do everything to get a big result."
With the two big Alpine stages to come, Edet sits in 119th place overall, someway off his best Tour result to date when he was 77th at the 2014 edition of the race.