Tour shorts: Petacchi narrowly avoids sprint chaos

Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) often relies on his considerable experience to sense and evade danger during the riotous finales of the Tour's opening week, but the veteran admitted that on Thursday, he was simply lucky to avoid going down in the crash that put an end to Tyler Farrar and Peter Sagan's chances.

"I think the fall might have been on my wheel, because I felt something hit my rear derailleur with about 3km to go," he said while still rasping for breath after wheeling to a halt in Saint-Quentin. "For a bit I thought I'd broken it and that I wouldn’t be able to contest the sprint. But I was just lucky I was able to get through and carry on to the sprint."

A fully-paid up member of the sprinters' union, Petacchi was reluctant to apportion the blame for this week's crashes to his fellow fastmen. "There’s always a lot of confusion because the teams of the riders who want to win the Tour are looking to stay at the front as well, just because they don’t want to lose seconds," he said.

Although he managed to stay upright, Petacchi found he had too much to do in the finishing straight, and came home in 8th place. "I braked too much and I couldn't get going again," he said dolefully. But there's still tomorrow, someone volunteered hopefully.

Cue a baleful look from Petacchi, and a deep outtake of breath before his face finally creased into a grim smile. "Yeah, let’s hope for tomorrow." (BR)

Martin and Sánchez compare notes

Often spotted right at the very back of the peloton, following their crashes on stage 1, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank) have spent a fair bit of time together over the last few days.

Both riders are sporting bandaging on their injured wrists, with Martin worse off with a fractured left scaphoid.

"We are always together in the back of the peloton, where there is room for discussion," Martin said. "It is true, even if we suffer, we talk a little bit together. We talk about the race, the weather, the conditions of the road. It's funny because each day, we give each other our medical reports. I will explain to him my condition, and he will tell me his condition. We are always kind of updated about our injuries. It's funny in these kind of conditions, while you are suffering, you can sometimes find some good guys to share your thoughts with."

Speaking of scaphoids...

Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Katusha) broke his right one in the crash nearing the finish in Saint-Quentin. Like Martin, he will wear a protective bandage which "should decrease his pain," according to the team. The Belarusan rider also suffered abrasions in the accident.

Cantwell not discouraged despite nasty crash

After sprinting to a best-ever sixth place on stage 4, the Tour de France debut of Jonathan Cantwell (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) took a turn for the worse on Thursday when he got caught up in the crash three kilometres from the finish in Sant-Quentin. The former Australian criterium champion is relishing the opportunity in his first year with the ProTour team, explaining on his twitter feed that "Need [to be] more than missing half my ass to stop me :)"

Cantwell explained on his team website that he was a victim of the high stakes on show at the Tour.

"It shows that riders take risks they normally don't take and that create havoc in the field," said. "Luckily, JJ demonstrated his power in the sprint and a third place is very good result but if I could have been there with him who knows if we could have won."

Voigt an inspiration to Cancellara

Basking in the glow of yellow, Fabian Cancellara is enjoying his time in the overall lead at the Tour de France. The Swiss admits that his legs are "hurting a little" at the moment, but he only needs to look so far as his long-time teammate Jens Voigt for added motivation.

"Jens Voigt has so much motivation. He is unbelievable," said Cancellara. "His age might say 41 on his passport but he rides like he is 34, 32, I don’t know. He’s a super teammate and friend. I said to him ‘It’s impossible to think you’re close to retirement. I’d be so happy to turn back the clock a few years and continue riding with you and keep going.’ It’s a pleasure to ride with him and he’s always an inspiration to our team and to all of cycling."



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