Crashes mar Tirreno stage

Narrow, winding roads caused havoc in Tuscany

Narrow, winding roads caused havoc in Tuscany (Image credit: Sirotti)

Crashes took a toll on the peloton on stage two of Tirreno-Adriatico as Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) asserted his dominance over Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) and Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in the bunch sprint. Petacchi moved into second overall behind Cofidis' Julien El Farès by 15 seconds thanks to the time bonus on the line.

Petacchi, however, had an advantage over Bennati, who had to chase back on to the group after a crash with 15km to go. "My teammates – Sabatini and Agnoli – pulled me back, but I wasted a lot of energy for the sprint."

The Cervélo TestTeam lost its main sprinter Thor Hushovd in the same crash. The Norwegian finished 12 minutes down, but the team salvaged the day with Dominique Rollin, who finished fourth.

"Bad luck today with five bad crashes," said Cervélo TestTeam directeur Jens Zemke. "The hardest one with Thor, he crashed on the last climb with maybe 15 km to go. He fell on his head and was bleeding.

"The other crashes where with Gabriel Rash, Andreas Klier, Simon Gerrans and Roger Hammond, we had to change the bikes. So a lot of stress today. Overall a lot of crashes as I think there are too many riders for the small roads in Italy.

"In the final group we switched to prepare the sprint for Rollin and he did an excellent job to sprint to fourth place."

Team Astana's Janez Brajkovic also crashed on his head and withdrew from the race with a concussion. His team announced he would have to rest for minimum three days, after which he can resume the training. "Without unforeseen complications, he will return to competition in the Critérium International [March 28-29]."

Andreas Klöden also crashed twice in the same stage, but suffered only road rashes and bruises on his shoulder and elbow, and will continue the race. The first crash occurred when a race motorcycle fell in front of the riders, and the second upon entering a tunnel which was narrow. Klöden expressed anger at the race organisers for putting too many riders on the narrow roads. "There are 25 teams with 200 riders, and the roads are just not designed for it," he wrote in his newsletter.

"In my opinion, there were simply too many wild cards awarded. If we race all day on very small roads, there will be a lot of crashes, some of which cannot be avoided. It's really dangerous to squeeze 200 riders onto a two-meter wide road."

He and Silence-Lotto's Thomas Dekker both suffered bruising and swelling on a knee. While the German was able to regain the front group and finish on the same time as Petacchi, Dekker lost 2:08 after suffering a broken derailleur which forced him to ride the final kilometres in the hardest gear.

Crashes on stage one already took out Fuji-Servetto's Jesús del Nero, who did not start due to injuries from a crash on stage one. X-rays at Lucca's medical centre revealed a double fracture in his left little finger. The Spaniard had his hand put in a cast and will be unable to ride for several days.

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