Despite the ongoing injury problems that have hampered Thomas Voeckler, Europcar have had a relatively good week. Until today, that is, when team leader Pierre Rolland was involved in the crash 24km out from the stage six finish in Metz. Last year’s best young rider not only lost more than two minutes on the day, but was also taken to hospital for x-rays on his elbow and ribs.
“It’s been an awful, awful day,” lamented Europcar team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau. “Although we’ve been hit heavily today, there’s been a lot of damage done elsewhere, so you have to put things into perspective.
Bernaudeau revealed that his riders had told him that the bunch was particularly nervy today. Asked why that was, he replied: “Everyone wants to be very close to their leader and everyone wants to be in the same place and there isn’t room for everyone… That makes things very tense, which puts riders on their limits.”
Rolland had managed to stay out of trouble up to Friday and had been looking forward to Saturday’s first medium mountain stage. “I’m not sure who was responsible but the bunch was going very quick and that made it bad. It was nervous all day and then, suddenly, the riders came together and ended up in a big pile.”
Rolland said he was about to head off to hospital to see whether he needs stitches in an elbow wound. He is also likely to have x-rays on the elbow and his ribs. “The damage to my ribs is not pleasant. We will see tomorrow how things are, but there’s no doubt this is a big blow for me and for the team.”