Chavanel Escapes to Stage 2 Win in 2010 Tour de France and Takes Overall Tour Lead
Armstrong crashes but is fifth in race standings. Schleck brothers crash too. Tour de France peloton shows wussbag reaction.
Lance Armstrong and several other Tour de France contenders were caught up in a series of crashes Monday during a rain-splattered second stage won by new race leader Sylvain Chavanel of France .
In one of the spills, Armstrong and defending Tour champion Alberto Contador of Spain tumbled to the asphalt on a slippery descent from the mid-grade Stockeu Pass toward the end of the 201-kilometer run from Brussels to Spa. Both sustained scrapes but finished the stage and were ok, their teams said.
Armstrong returned to the RadioShack team bus with his team outfit torn and a bloody scrape on his thigh.
"You had people everywhere. It was surreal. When I got back on my bike ... I saw crash, after crash, after crash," Armstrong said, noting riders laid out on the ground. "It was like war."
"There was no way to stay on the bike," he added, saying he sustained an abrasion on his hip. "There was something on the road ... I was scared. I think everybody was scared."
RadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel said Armstrong also hurt an elbow - though not the same elbow the seven-time Tour champion had injured in a crash in the Tour of California in May.
"Riding downhill was almost like ice-skating," Bruyneel said, adding that RadioShack's Andreas Kloeden and Levi Leipheimer also fell. "Almost half of the peloton crashed today," Bruyneel said.
Equally unlucky was 2009 Tour runner-up Andy Schleck. The Luxembourg rider appeared to injure his elbows in another spill. He returned to the race and rejoined the pack after race leader in yellow Fabian Cancellara surprisingly was allowed to control the peloton and force the riders to slow down and wait for the Schleck brothers and other riders who had crashed. This happened in spite of the fact that no riders were seriously hurt or in real danger.
Cervelo TestTeam's Norwegian God of Thunder Thor Hushovd told Roadcycling.com after the stage "I feel frustrated by what happened today. Our team was working hard and we would have had a good chance for victory. I feel like they have taken something away from us today. There were a few sprinters who did not make it to the front group, but there was no reason to not contest the sprint today. Everyone made a gentleman's agreement not to sprint, but I lost an important opportunity to try to win the stage and gain points."
British rider Jeremy Hunt said "We pulled at the front all day. We all managed to get through. It was just chaos. In the end, they didn't want to sprint. I cannot understand why. Hopefully there will be no points awarded for today's stage. It's going to be chaos again tomorrow."
Had a rider fallen of a mountain side, or if a rider was in danger of suffering permanent damage, then of course the other riders should slow down and the stage be neutralized, but certainly not in situations such as this one. In recent years the new rider generations have been more and more wussbagish and the Tour has suffered a lack of cannibals who dare to make the race interesting to watch. With today's development we expect the 2010 Tour to develop like the tours of recent years where no favorites dare to attack for real before the final climb of the Tour. Where are the real men and why have the young generations changed? Discuss this in our Tour de France discussion forums at http://forums.roadcycling.com now! The 2010 Tour de France should be a pro bike race, not a kindergarten excursion. What we witnessed today was disrespectful to the world's greatest race.
Chavanel collected his second career Tour stage victory after joining a small early breakaway group and then gradually distancing them. The 31-year-old Quick Step rider clocked 4 hours, 40 minutes, 48 seconds on the stage.
Chavanel took the race leader's yellow jersey off Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara who, like Armstrong and Contador, trailed 3:56 in the main pack. Armstrong placed 54th and Contador was 81st.
The French leader had started the stage in 87th place overall, 59 seconds behind Cancellara.
"Pure happiness," said Chavanel, choking up with emotion.
Aside from Chavanel's vault to first place, the top standings didn't change. Cancellara now trails the Frenchman by 2 minutes, 57 seconds, with Germany's Tony Martin in third place, 3:07 back.
Britain's David Millar is fourth, 3:17 back, and Armstrong dropped a notch to fifth and is 3:19 back. Contador is seventh 3:24 behind.
After two straight stages with multiple crashes, the stage Tuesday takes riders on what had already been billed as the most treacherous in week one - a 213-kilometer ride from Wanze Arenberg to Porte du Hainaut, featuring seven bumpy and dangerous cobblestone pavé patches.
"The stage tomorrow will be very difficult. I have the confidence knowing that I can handle the cobblestones. I want to win the stage," Hushovd commented.
Hushovd's teammate German Andreas Klier said "I think tomorrow will be a big spectacle. The cobblestones themselves will not be so hard. Positioning at the arrival to the cobbles is the key factor. Everyone will want to be at the front, but the road is only 6 to 8 meters wide. That's the problem. This will create chaos. Everyone will be very nervous because they will be afraid of falling. If one of the big favorites crashes, or they are caught behind a crash, they can lose lots of time and their Tour is over. We'd like to win the stage with Thor and keep Carlos out of harm's way. We have a very strong team for these cobblestones. I did not race Paris-Roubaix this year, so this will be my Paris-Roubaix."
The whole team here at Roadcycling.com are looking forward to seeing the real men unfold their potential in tomorrow's stage 3 of the 2010 Tour de France. Who will be men and who will be mice? Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com to find out!
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Click here for stage 2 results.