Dropped riders trying to get back on during a wet second stage of the Amgen Tour of California saw frequent crashes throughout the stage. Fortunately there has been no reports of serious injuries resulting from the incidents, although the damage was done to the overall hopes of BMC Racing Team’s George Hincapie.
Team Radioshack director Johan Bruyneel admitted the conditions were challenging, but was glad none of his riders were involved. “There were some parts [of the road] that were very slippery. And there were a lot of crashes,” he said. “I saw a lot of guys going down, so it was good that the guys [from Radioshack] were in the front so they didn’t take too many risks.
“When I saw those crashes on the downhill, it was mostly guys who were dropped and were trying to make it back, taking more risks than they should,” he added. “But there’s only one way to go back to the front group and that’s to go faster than they do…so you have to take risks.”
Cervelo Test Team sport director Jean Paul van Poppel agreed that riders were taking too many risks on the stage. “We saw a lot of crashes on the downhill, it was super slippery,” said Van Poppel. “Some people went over the edge, one fell in front of the car - I think they took too many risks.”
Wearing the stars and stripes of the USA national champion, Hincapie was among the riders to crash on the stage. “I didn't feel good at all on the climbs," Hincapie said. "That's probably normal after crashing at 60 kp/h. Hopefully I'll feel better as the race goes on."
While it ended the day on a high note UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis also suffered a tough day during the stage. After falling the previous day Andrew Pinfold went down again, leaving him with “road rash on top of road rash”. Team-mate Matt Crane fell on the Oakville Grade descent, while Chris Baldwin also had a fall and Karl Menzies reported had issues after hitting a wet, white line towards the stage finish.
UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis wasn’t the only domestic team to suffer from falls, with Bissell’s Andy and Ben Jacques-Maynes among five of its riders to crash.
Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank) and Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) were amongst the other ProTour riders to crash on the stage.
The difficult stage saw more than half the field lose more than 15 minutes on general classification. With the exception of Hincapie, the most major general classification contenders crossed the line with the leaders in a select group.