It had been a relatively calm first day at Circuit de la Sarthe until the bunch entered the narrow streets of the finishing loops and the jostling for position began. The finale was marked by a frantic and nervous finish which saw around 25 riders hit the pavement inside 3km to go. One of the worst affected was Sam Bewley who broke his collarbone in the fall.
Bewley was looking to set up Orica GreenEdge teammate Aidis Kruopis for the sprint when he went down, along with three more Orica GreenEdge riders. Bewley was the only one from the Australia-registered ProTeam to be seriously hurt in the incident while Kruopis and neo-professional Michael Hepburn suffered minor abrasions. Last year's overall winner Luke Durbridge was caught behind and received bunch time - as the incident occurred within 3km to go.
"The loop at the finish was run on fairly narrow roads," said Hepburn in a team release. "The boys did a great job keeping in good position. The break was brought back with five kilometres, and from there, we were planning on helping Aidis in the finish.
"I'm still not exactly sure what happened. It was a big crash with about 25 guys going down. Aidis and I were okay, and Luke was mostly caught behind more than anything, but Sam didn't look too good. He immediately said his shoulder hurt. We [Aidis and I] lost some skin and were caught up in the chaos of it all, but it wasn't too bad."
Following a visit to the hospital Bewley and his team confirmed the news. The 25-year-old will undergo surgery to mend his broken collarbone in the coming days while his return to competition is yet to be determined.
"X-rays confirm that Sam Bewley has broken his collarbone. The break will require surgery sometime in the next few days," said a statement by Orica GreenEdge.
Bewley took home a bronze medal from the team pursuit at the London Olympics before officially announcing his move to Orica GreenEdge mid-way through 2012. He was included in the squad that finished third in the team time trial at the World Championships in Valkenburg and was looking forward to his first full year with the Australian team.
He opened his season at the Tour of Oman before heading to Volta a Catalunya and most recently arriving at Circuit de la Sarthe. His recovery post-surgery should be fairly straightforward with Bewley already eager to race.
"Collarbone is broken. Will have it operated on in the next few days and hopefully be back and at it sooner rather than later," Bewley tweeted.
"Disappointed, I've worked the last month and was motivated for this race but it's cycling and shit happens #cestlavie," he added.