Earlier at the start in Cambrai, Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel appeared slightly battered, but again in good spirits after losing the overall lead yesterday.
"Disappointment is just part of racing, too, isn't it?" he told Cyclingnews, remembering his unpleasant ride over the cobblestones of Northern France yesterday.
"I ran into a first problem when Fränk Schleck went down, as my chain was stuck in my frame and I couldn't put it back on. Then I made my way back to the group single file, and my rear wheel punctures. I change bikes, get back on again to the group that came in at 2.30 minutes, and then I puncture again. I was so angry I threw the bike away!
"Plus, I wasn't on a very good day anyway as I was still a bit tired from my effort the day before. So everything went wrong... Yesterday, for me, was harder than Paris-Roubaix, even if there was less pavé!"