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Zabel faulted in stage two crash

A pensive Erik Zabel

A pensive Erik Zabel (Image credit: David Reinhardt)

By Laura Weislo

Milram's Erik Zabel admitted to making the sudden move which set off a horrific crash during the finale of the Tour de France's stage two in Gent. Zabel explained that he made the move, saying, "I had to avoid Boonen, who was riding in front of me." When Zabel suddenly veered to the right to avoid running into Boonen's rear wheel, he clipped the front wheel of Liquigas' Manuel Quinziato, setting off a chain reaction that held up the vast majority of the peloton.

Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster was one of the many who hit the pavement in the wreck, and he lamented on his weblog, "Damn, all year long I didn't have any crashes, and now at the Tour I do. I hit the barriers with 65 km/h. An unpleasant experience. But how do they say: 'What doesn't kill us makes us tougher'. The team was working well. Cavendish was crossing in front of me to the right, and I thought I should go with him. Then Zabel did a little wave, the Liquigas guy got affected and then I hit the barriers. My bike was broken into three pieces.

Left standing on the side of the road, Förster was one of the many who had to take a spectator's view of the finish. "From there we followed the video screen. I would have liked to sprint there." He won't be alone in riding into France with aches and pains on stage three, the longest stage of the Tour. "Tonight it starts to hurt," he wrote, "I am all taped up and bathed in ice."

The crash, which also brought down overall leader Fabian Cancellara, sent several riders to the hospital for x-rays. Discovery Channel's Tomas Vaitkus was the worst off with a thumb broken in several places. He was forced to abandon the Tour and went in for surgery on Monday night.

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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. A 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.