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The GP de Denain 2012 podium: Alex Rasmussen, JJ Haedo and Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini)
Gesink admits the general classification is "shattered"
Ice cream reward for third place
The newspaper had bet with Haedo that he would not finish in the top three in a stage of this year's Tour de France. The Argentinian then finished third in Thursday's fifth stage.
When they asked him when he wanted his reward, Haedo suggested, “Maybe we should wait a few days and just talk to Bjarne (Riis, ed.) about it. He's the man in charge. But everyone will be fine. Maybe chocolate will be good.” SW
Sagan's bell against crashes
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) not only displays interesting victory salutes. The current wearer of the green jersey also relies on quite traditional bike components in order to prevent him from crashing. After having his chances annihilated by a fall in the finale of Thursday's stage five, the Slovakian asked his mechanic to mount a bell on his handlebar - indeed, an ordinary, black city bike bell. Let's hope it will get him upright through today's stage from Epernay to Metz. HK
Another day, another victim of stage six’s crash
Anthony Delaplace (Saur - Sojasun) suffered a fractured wrist in stage six when nearly half the peloton were involved in a high-speed fall with less than 30km remaining. Unlike many of the fallen, who couldn’t get back up from their injuries, Delaplace was able to finish the stage and start the following day. His injuries however, proved too much and after just an hour of racing he decided to call it quits. His team was one of the few with a full complement of riders but now they are down to eight.
"I have not much to say, I was in pain, I knew it was going to be hard after a sleepless night to suffer. But I wanted to start out of respect for the Tour. I could not imagine coming home like that. However, I do not have any regrets. At kilometre 10 I started to lose contact but in reality, I knew I would not be able to continue. I could not stand any shock. That threw me and I could not stand out of the saddle. I leave with a clear conscience," said Delaplace. AM
Tour abandonment over the years
At this point of the race, just one week into the Tour, the number of riders having quit the race is up to 17. So many riders having abandoned at this early part of the race is on par with the 1998 edition. Nearly half the teams have lost at least one teammate with Garmin-Sharp the worst affected. The US-registered team has six riders left in the race and a number of them are carrying the after-effects of numerous crashes. AM
Reactions from a decimated Rabobank team after stage seven
The first mountain finish of this year’s Tour, up to the 1,035m La Planche des Belles Filles was going to be tough but many expected a closer result than what eventuated. Sky’s dominant tempo setting was a brutal test for many of the general classification contenders. Here are some of the reactions from the Rabobank team following the finish of the stage.
Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) lies 4:36 down on Wiggins and in 30th place. Mollema is feeling the effects from his crash on stage six - something which no doubt affected his performance on stage seven.
"Today the final climb was very hard, it was very difficult. "I lose more than 2 minutes. That really is a lot. That calls for another strategy for the rest of this tour. We will have to see now, maybe adjust the plans. You never know how you can win time. Simply following won’t be enough now. So I do think we’ll have to start an attack somewhere and hope we can get some time back."
Robert Gesink (Rabobank) came in behind his teammate Mollema and although Laurens Ten Dam was there to pace him, he conceded 2:53 at the finish.
"The GC is shattered. I can’t say much more about it. It was a difficult day and the speed was high. Luis León [Sánchez] kept up really well. I myself rode at the utmost speed and it wasn’t enough. We all know how I was before this, how good I was in California and Suisse. You don’t lose that just like that. But you know, yesterday I landed on the tarmac. You’re not supposed to do that, but it happened. Today didn’t turn out as I had expected." AM