The fifth stage of the Tour de France was plagued with crashes, the most gruesome, and apparently the most photogenic one, involving RadioShack GC hopeful Jani Brajkovic, whose head wound gushed blood in full view of the cameras. Luckily the Slovenian time trial champion was relatively OK aside from a broken collarbone and a concussion.
RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel commented on his blog, "I don't remember a day filled with so many crashes, especially on a day with dry roads. But narrow roads, wind, nerves, trying to get to the front, not always being alert, and just bad luck."
Bruyneel estimated there were 10 wrecks along the way, listing off the incidents involving his riders, including Brajkovic, Levi Leipheimer, Chris Horner and Yaroslav Popovych. Saxo Bank's Alberto Contador was also among the casualties.
"Popo gave his wheel to Horner after Horner crashed. Popo was making his way back through the caravan, but got sandwiched between an ambulance and car. He must have been going over 70 km/h and went right over the handlebars. Bike broken. He then later crashed again on a roundabout."
Alexander Kolobnev responded to some criticisms that the peloton didn't observe its normal courtesy of slowing up after crashes to let riders get back on.
"The first five kilometres were real quiet but suddenly then the chaos started. From kilometer 15 started the first crashes. It seemed that the race was accelerating after a crash but what really happened was that we did not want a cut in the peloton so we [had to] greatly accelerate."
Saur-Sojasun's Jimmy Engoulvent was pretty angry about the stage, but not because of narrow, dangerous roads or massive pile-ups. No, he was upset because of the pace being set by Garmin-Cervélo.
"I've never seen that before!" the three-time Tour participant said in a press release. "I don't know why Garmin made the race so hard. They made everyone angry and they never slowed down! If every day is like that, there will be only 50 riders in Paris!"
No wallet left behind
Tejay van Garderen, HTC-Highroad's promising young rider, is racing in his first Tour de France, and perhaps hasn't perfected his 'idiot check' to make sure nothing is left behind in the hotels.
On Monday, he said on Twitter, "Biggest idiot of the day award goes to me. Forgot my wallet at the other hotel." The comment provoked plenty of mockery from his teammates and colleagues, but today he had the last laugh.
"Nope didn't crash today. Actually our whole team managed to keep it upright today," he said on Twitter. "And I did get my wallet back thanks to my soinjure [sic] Peter."
Notable Tweets on stage 5:
David Millar: Tour very Giro-like, mad parcours, transfers galore. Still child's play compared to the savagery that is The Italian Race.
Jakob Fuglsang: Thank God Im alive & in one piece! Stupidest stage I've ever done!! @ASO this was not okay. Hope that nobody are hurt to bad!
Mark Renshaw: Today was very sketchy. Im sure it looked great on tv but it was bloody dangerous.
Today was the first time I've ever seen a riders bike stuck on a motorbike and for 400meters. Hope the rider is ok! Not good to see that.
Maarten Tjallingii: Crash, wait, get back, again crash, wait, get back. STRESS, that was my main expirience today. Fortunatly @RGUpdate [Robert Gesink] got back.
Brent Bookwalter: ahhh yes...that was the absurd and excessive Tour that I've been dreaming of. This part of France would maybe be fun if you drive a go-kart
Fränk Schleck: Crazy dangerous finish.I know that everybody wanna see a great show and specacle [sic] but I believe we have to find the right balance of show and safty [sic]
Jose Joaquin Rojas: Y esta es la mejor carrera del mundo? Que venga dios y lo vea! Descalificado por que les da la gana, bueno es que Gilbert les gusta mas.. (And this is the best race in the world? God come and see! Disqualified because they feel like, OK, they like Gilbert more)
Alberto Contador: Thanks for your interest. I'm fine after the fall. Now with ice throughout the body, I'll pass not a good night, but tomorrow all out...:)
Levi Leipheimer: Nothing nice to say about today. Don't know what hit me but I got run over big time! Had to throw everything away 'cept shoes & glasses
Weening to leave Rabobank
While teams and riders are forbidden by UCI rules to discuss their contract negotiations before the allowed period, they are allowed to confirm contract renewals. They're apparently allowed to also announce terminations: Rabobank confirmed today that Pieter Weening would leave the squad after this season.
Weening has been with the team since his espoirs days in 2002.
"Thankful for all the years with Rabobank, we wish Pieter all the best!" said spokesman Luuc Eisenga.
Weening did not make his team's selection for the Tour de France.