Monday, July 5, 2010


Frenchman grabs glory after a long breakaway and break from peloton crashes

Sylvan Chavanel was part of a 9-man group that broke away from the peloton early in today's 200+ kilometer stage over rolling hills and 5 categorized climbs through Belgium. In the end, the Frenchman riding for Belgian-based team QuickStep was the only cyclist to stay clear.

It is rare for a breakaway to stay away. The escapees usually get caught by a determined peloton.  But Chavanel's advantage was helped by multiple crashes in the peloton on a rain-soaked hill near the end of the stage.  As a result, Chavanel crossed the finish line nearly 4 minutes ahead of the peloton.

Chavanel started the stage 59 seconds behind race leader Fabian Cancellara.  He ended the day nearly 3 minutes ahead of Cancellara.  So, Chavanel takes over the Yellow Jersey.  Well deserved.

Crashes plagued the Tour de France for the second day in a row.  This time it was rain-slick pavement on a steep downhill that caused lots of riders to hit the pavement.  Favorites Frank and Andy Schleck went down.  Lance Armstrong went down.  Alberto Contador went down.  It's unclear if any riders sustained race-ending injuries.  But it was carnage again.  Here's a a video link to some of the main crash.  In the photo, USA sprint specialist Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Transitions team holds his elbow after a crash.

After the crashes and chaos with riders strung out over several kilometers, race leader Fabian Cancellara rode to the front of the group and slowed it down, permitting riders who had fallen to rejoin the peloton over the last 15 kilometers of the stage.  It was, to my mind, an act of leadership and wisdom.  Someone had to say: "This is too dangerous.  This is too crazy.  We've got a long Tour to go.  Let's calm down.  Let's ride this thing the right way."  Cancellara prevented any sprinting at the finish line and the peloton rode calmly together to complete the stage.  Kudos to Cancellara.

Full stage report and standings at Cyclingnews 


Aden said...

You would probably know this better than I would. Is it not considered to be very poor etiquette to take advantage of the crashes to extend your lead?

I don't think that Chavanel should be wearing the Yellow.

bikehiker said...

You're right about the etiquette of not taking advantage on crashes. That's why Cancellara held the peloton back until all crashed riders rejoined. But Chavanel was still over 2 minutes ahead of the peloton when the crashes occurred. So, even if you would "freeze" his lead at 2 minutes instead of the 4 minutes he finished with, he'd still be in the Yellow Jersey. Agree?