Playing solitaire in the blame game
Just as inevitable as the first week crashes are the blame games that go along with them. On Wednesday, the peloton was hurtling full speed toward the finish in Rouen with a strong crosswind and traffic barriers ahead when a switch of direction in the peloton led Sky's Bernhard Eisel to clip wheels and tumble, taking down a number of riders including a quite annoyed Mark Cavendish.
Tempers flared as riders picked themselves up from the pavement, but Team Sky today learned that every time you point a finger, there are three more pointing back at yourself, as evidenced by Saxo Bank's Karsten Kroon commenting post-stage via Twitter: "Seconds after the massive pileup with 2k to go: Eisel: "Who's fault was that!" Farrar: "F--- it was you Bernie!" (LW)
Injury report stage 4
Eisel was one of the worst off in the crash: he was given four stitches to his eyebrow following the stage. Other riders escaped with scrapes and bruises: Garmin-Sharp's Tyler Farrar and Robbie Hunter, Rabobank's Mark Renshaw, Liquigas-Cannondale's Daniel Oss and Brett Lancaster (Orica-GreenEdge) among others.
On Tuesday's stage 3, Lancaster's teammate Simon Gerrans did an impersonation of Johnny Hoogerland and tumbled into a barbed wire fence during a crash on stage three, and is still feeling the consequences.
"Simon's a bit stiff today after his crash, but he's not dealing with anything that's going to stop him from getting back to the level that he was at before he crashed," said team director Matthew White. "In a couple day's time, he'll be fine."
Argos-Shimano sprinter Marcel Kittel has been getting plenty of moral support from his fans as he soldiers on through gastroenteritis. He reported today that his stomach is finally better, but that knee pains are still plaguing him. "I'll take it day by day now. I'll have to see how I feel during the race tomorrow," he said.
Tjallingii and Rojas surgeries successful
Rabobank's Maarten Tjallingii had surgery to repair the fractured hip he sustained in stage 3. He now has three screws in his hip and is back home with his family, but is not sure when he can get back to training or racing.
Also going under the knife was Movistar's Jose Rojas who crashed in the same incident. The Spaniard sustained a triple facture to his clavicle. A plate with eight screws was required to repair two of the fractures, while the third was held in place by one screw. Rojas is optimistic that he can be riding on Saturday with an eye to the London Olympic Games.
BMC, RadioShack avoid carnage
The teams with the most experienced riders suffered the least in the crashes today: BMC protected Cadel Evans from disaster, while RadioShack-Nissan kept all of its riders from the wreckage.
The secret? Relying on strong Classics men such as Marcus Burghardt to protect the GC men in the dangerous opening stages. "We saw last year it was really important to have the classics guys, especially in the first week," Burghardt said. "You have a lot of crashes and you can have some crosswinds, so you must be prepared. I'm not sure if you can do that with a team of just climbers."
Jens Voigt was relieved the team avoided losing the yellow jersey, still held by Fabian Cancellara, who was held up behind the melee. "Luckily it was inside the 3km to go marker so everybody will have the same time. If it would have happened 300 meters sooner, we would have lost the yellow jersey. We were also lucky to not be in any of the crashes, so we defended the jersey and stayed safe. Once again, mission accomplished. It was a good day for us."
How good is winning?
Just ask Greg Henderson who guided his Lotto Belisol teammate Andre Greipel to the victory on Stage 4. The Kiwi veteran's arms shot up in the air when Greipel crossed the finish line in Rouen, the 35-year-old clearly enjoying his Tour de France debut.
"It feels like I won," Henderson told Roadcycling.co.nz. "I had the exact same feeling.
"I got a kiss from the big German... It was pretty emotional. He's won 15 races now [this season], but there's something special about this race."
Today's Tour de France news
- Video: Voeckler's knee pain hampers Tour de France ambitions
- Basso super domestique for Nibali in Tour de France
- Cavendish and Eisel OK after Rouen crash
- Video: Crash denies Farrar chance of repeat Tour victory on Independence Day
- Van Hummel on fire to teach Cavendish a lesson
- Spekenbrink: Geniez couldn't develop futher as a rider with Argos-Shimano
- Video: Tour de France Stage 4 highlights
- Goss not giving up on green jersey
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