After the finish of a Dantesque fifth stage of the Tour de France, which tackled seven rain-soaked cobbled sectors used in Paris-Roubaix, Tour de France Race Director Christian Prudhomme defended his organization's decision to include the stage in this year's race.
"The cobbles are part of the heritage of the north (of France) and are part of the heritage of the Tour de France. A Tour de France winner has to be able to ride on every kind of road," Prudhomme told Cyclingnews before the unveiling of a new monument in memory of the former world champion Jean Stablinski, who discovered the Trouée Arenberg sector of cobbles that is used in Paris-Roubaix. The sector is considered too dangerous for the Tour de France.
"The cobbles are an integral part of the Tour de France. If we were crazy, we would've gone through the Arenberg forest," Prudhomme said, preferring to speak in French to avoid being misunderstood in English.
"This morning (technical race directors) Thierry Gouvenou and Jean-François Pesscheux - even though he has retired - decided to take away two sectors. The Mons-en-Pévèle sector because it was the hardest and due to the conditions, it wasn't appropriate to pass there. Also the sector Marc Madiot d'Orchies because there was undergrowth. There were leaves on the ground which made it slippery."
"There were many crashes on the asphalt, but not so many on the cobbles. The métier of a cyclist is exceptional but difficult. What they have done today contributes to their legend, being admired by people around the world."
"We didn't ask for rain. We'd love to have rain in Paris-Roubaix because we didn't have it there since 1994 and 2001. We always have the sun there while we preferred to have the sun here today. I confirm that the cobbles are part of the integral Tour de France. I congratulate Thierry Gouvenou. We would do it again."
No sympathy for Froome
Prudhomme didn't feel the stage route was the reason why Chris Froome, last year's Tour de France winner, crashed out of the race, offering little sympathy for the Team Sky rider.
"When bad luck strikes, you never know when it's going to happen," Prudhomme told Cyclingnews.
"Chris Froome crashed yesterday and obviously today he could no longer control his bike. He crashed twice. Forewarned is forearmed. When the riders know, they do their reconnaissance, they pay attention. Quite often crashes occur on wide roads, straight roads where they pay less attention."
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