Skip to main content

Leipheimer describes Ardennes stage as pure survival

Levi Leipheimer facing questions

Levi Leipheimer facing questions (Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)

American Levi Leipheimer pointed to Monday's crash on the descent of the Col du Stockeu as a prime example of why communication between the team cars and the riders is important. The RadioShack rider said the new rules banning television monitors from the front seats of team cars prevented them from knowing what was happening in the ensuing chaos.

The lack of information was one of the reasons behind the strike that led the riders to wait for Andy Schleck and negotiate with the race director the cancellation of the points from second to twentieth place.

"It was hectic," said Leipheimer on the finishing line. "It was like some kind of car game. Down Stockeu, it was just chaos. Everyone went off the road. We didn't know who was where. The directors couldn't tell us. They can't have TV anymore in the cars."

The Saxo Bank team suffered from the same kind of confusion, as Jens Voigt described. "Fabian (Cancellara) and I hesitated on what to do when Andy and Fränk (Schleck) were at the back," Voigt told Cyclingnews after the finish. "Bjarne Riis eventually decided we had to slow down and he asked me wait for them. But when I got caught by the followers, [Jakob] Fuglsang told me he was the only Saxo Bank rider in the peloton. I turned back because Fränk and Andy were even further." They made it back to the main peloton after Cancellara convinced everyone else to wait.

"We thought enough is enough," Leipheimer said, describing the attitude in the peloton. "It's chapeau to Chavanel. He deserves his win. There are always crashes in the first week of the Tour, it's the history of the race. But today was pure survival."

In the middle of the stage, the race organisation issued a release about transport regulations for stage 3, which included a reminder to the team managers: "For safety reasons, we remind you that a TV receiver in the front positions of the vehicles is prohibited."

The issue of communication between the team car and the riders has been the subject of much debate in recent years. One year ago, predominant team managers and riders protested against a proposed ban on radio communications between them. The UCI relented, making the decision to ban them progressively, first in category 2 races, next year in category 1 races and followed by a total ban from 2012 onwards.