During stage 5 of the Tour de France two crashes took down a lot of riders on their way from Cagnes-sur-mer to Marseille in the south of France. At 15km from the finish line in Marseille, the race was marred by a crash in the middle of the bunch. Sprinter Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), who won the first stage in a bunch sprint was one of the casualties.
For the German sprinter, it was quite a surprise to be in the peloton at that moment as he wasn't expected to survive the multiple climbs between Cagnes-sur-mer and Marseille. Argos-Shimano originally planned to go for John Degenkolb in the sprint, but was weighing its options when Kittel was still up front.
"It's such a shame that I came down. Before the race we knew that it would be a difficult stage today with the hills so we decided to go for John, but if I was still be in the bunch we would sprint for me. However, the moment we wanted to change plan I came off and as it was approaching the finish it was impossible to get back up there.
"Apart from missing skin on my left I am OK. Tomorrow will be another chance, the team is looking good and everybody is focused and motivated. So I am really looking forward to that," Kittel said in a press release.
In the finishing straight a second crash took down more riders. While Cavendish started his sprint, teammate Matteo Trentin was dropping back after doing his pull in the Omega Pharma-Quickstep lead-out train. It seemed like Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) didn't notice Trentin and rode straight into the young Italian rider.
"It was important to be in the front in the last corner. I rode a bit further than I was supposed to go and over hit the corner a bit. Luckily the guy from Lotto [Henderson] took over and then Gert Steegmans. When dropping back, a rider from FDJ rode into my rear wheel," Trentin told Cyclingnews.
Overall contender Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) was one of the victims, and was lying on the ground for a while and eventually walked across the finish line. When the bruised up Belgian eventually reached the team bus, he limped and cursed his way towards the door and struggled to climb up the stairs. Half an hour later sports director Herman Frison gave an update on his status.
"Jurgen was catapulted over the riders on the ground. He's a bit down-hearted now. He was probably thinking about his crash from a couple of years ago. In one second it can be over. That was the first impression, but it's better now. He's bruised but we don't know how he is on the inside. The doctor was with him and now he's being treated with ice on the bus. It's all swollen right now. Physiotherapist Tim Aerts is staying with him. We'll have to wait [to see] how he is going on the bike tomorrow. Hopefully he can continue his Tour," Frison said.
In a press release later in the evening team doctor Jan Mathieu said Van den Broeck hadn't broken anything. "He's mainly hurt on his right knee which is severely swollen with a hematoma," Mathieu said. Van den Broeck explained that Bouhanni crashed and before he knew it he was down as well. "My knee hurts a lot. The rest isn't too serious. Some minimal road rash but that heals quickly. I'm curious to find out how I'll wake up. It's a pity because I was happy to survive the Corsican stages without troubles. I've said it before, every days something can happen in the Tour," Van den Broeck said.