By Laura Weislo
The finish of the Tour's stage two in Gent, Belgium seemed to be a by the book sprint finish, but the situation quickly changed with two kilometres to go when a touch of wheels set of a chain reaction pile-up and the Maillot Jaune, Fabian Cancellara, found himself lying on a heap of bodies and bikes on the side of the road.
Cancellara had no time to react and no room to manoeuvre out of the way of a crash that started in the first ten riders and then ripped through the peloton, taking down sprinters Daniele Bennati, Mark Cavendish and a host of other riders as well. With bodies and bikes blocking the road, all but 25 riders were able to take part in the dash for glory.
When the yellow jersey came across the line a few minutes after winner Gert Steegmans, he was holding his left arm to his chest, leading to rampant rumours that he had broken his wrist or collarbone. However, when the CSC rider stepped up to receive his third Maillot Jaune, he easily threaded his arms through the jersey and had no troubles shaking hands with the dignitaries on the podium.
"Immediately after the crash I was scared that I was seriously injured, because I seemed to hurt everywhere," explained the World Champion on the team-csc.com website, 'But it was probably the surprise of the impact and the fact that it was cold and I was wet, so when I was lying there on the road among all the other guys I did think the worst for a minute. But after I finished the stage and got some dry clothes on and got warm, I felt fine again," said Fabian Cancellara, who was pleased by the overall result of the day.
The 168.5 kilometre jaunt from Dunkerque to Gent was characterised by a long breakaway that left the CSC team controlling the pace for the second stage in a row. Once the teams of the sprinters pitched in to help, it was time for the boys in red and black to take a back seat and cruise in to the finish. "All in all we're happy about another day in yellow," said Cancellara, "The teamwork is perfect so far and we're all in a great mood, so no complaints about the Tour from us as yet."
Despite the rosy outlook, Cancellara wasn't the only CSC rider to be involved in a crash on the stage. Both Fränk Schleck and Kurt-Asle Arvesen were in two separate crashes earlier in the stage.
"They've both got some cuts and bruises, but nothing serious. Fränk hurt his elbow, but it's not broken – just sore," explained director Kim Andersen, who would like more help from the other teams during the third stage.
"Tomorrow is a very long day, so we'll need some help if we're going to prevent a break from lasting all the way home. 168 kilometres like today is easy enough, but tomorrow is 230 kilometres and we're not gonna pull the peloton for that long that's for sure," determined Kim Andersen.
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.
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