RadioShack directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel is confident that his team can pull off an overall win despite losing two of its five overall contenders following a crash during stage five of the Amgen Tour of California. The accident eliminated seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and caused Jose Luis Rubiera to slide down the standings.
"It's definitely not good," Bruyneel told Cyclingnews. "I liked our chances better with Lance [Armstrong] and Chechu [Rubiera] in contention for the GC. Now we are down to only three. We are going to try to win this race; we're going to try everything we can until the last moment."
Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) is currently leading the overall classification, tied on time with Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) in second place and 10 seconds ahead of Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) in third.
The squad started the stage with a strong showing of five riders in contention for the overall standings. Three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer now leads the team on general classification, sitting in third place, followed by Janez Brajkovic (seventh) and Chris Horner (ninth).
Armstrong and Rubiera crashed inside the first five kilometres of the day's 195km stage. Rubiera was able to get back on his bike and complete the stage 27 minutes behind the lead group. Armstrong was not as fortunate and didn't get back up to race. He was transported to hospital where he received eight stitches to a gash under his eye and a wound to his elbow.
"I didn't see the crash," explained Bruyneel. "We got to the place where the crash happened and everyone was already down. When we heard on the radio tour that there was a crash we saw a red jersey and I realised it was Chechu on the left and on the right I saw Lance sitting there. I immediately had the image of last year when he was sitting on the side of the road with a broken collarbone.
"We kind of could see immediately that his shoulders and legs were OK, that is the first thing that you look at," he added. "Then it goes down to the wrists and the elbows. There was a lot of blood immediately on his face."
Armstrong crashed in the previous day's stage on the finishing circuits in Modesto. He rode into the finish and was given the same time as the rest of the peloton.
"Yesterday there was no problem, he was being held up and just went down," said Bruyneel. "There was no damage. Today yes, when you saw the first moment it was this big cut and swollen with a lot of blood on his eye. Ultimately, I don't think that was the problem. It is the elbow that is the problem."