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TdF #10 Yet another crash

July 17, 2014

Rule number one in the Tour – you have to cross the finish line in Paris to have a chance of winning. There are many challenges in the 21 stages in the 3 week race: mountains, cobbles, rain and hot roads. The most important challenge is to avoid crashing. There are minor bumps and scrapes that you might recover from and still finish. There have been some like Thomas last year, who even ride with a broken bone. But if you hit the road then you might not get up.

Contador crashed half way through the stage on damp roads on a fast descent. Who knows what caused it. There are many hazards like potholes, stones, oil, leaves, or even other riders. Perhaps he was just going too fast for that part of the course. Down he went and he was very slow to get up, and obviously in pain. Pro cyclists have a strange ability to get back on a bike with severe injuries, and Contador tried to carry on for a few more km. Later we heard that he had broken his leg.

Another favourite falls. With Froome, Contador and Andy Schleck out, and the likes of Evans and Wiggins not starting, there are no previous winners in the peloton. So we will have a new winner again this year.

The stage was very tough with lots of climbing. The stage win was uncertain until very near the end. A strong group formed the break and included Sagan, who was obviously interested in the intermediate sprint points, and Purito Rodriguez who seems to be going for the mountains competition this year. Then came powerhouse Tony Martin toeing white jersey wearer Kwiatkowski. Martin led the race for much of the day, setting up the young Pole for a chance of yellow and maybe even a stage win. When Martin’s legs gave up they really cracked. He was barely able to move on the steep road.

However, Astana and Sky had other ideas about the stage win. They took turns at raising the pace. Gallopin was dropped and fought hard for his yellow jersey, but that was in vain and he finished almost 5 minutes back. Kwiatkowski was caught only 3km or so from the line, but cracked and lost a lot of time. Early he looked good for yellow. Instead, he lost his white jersey and dropped out of the top ten on GC.

Most of the favourites were together with about 2km to go. The finish was a tough climb at the end of a long hilly stage. Nibali used up his team mates one by one until they were all spent. Only then did he jump clear. He always looked very comfortable and even had an exaggerated pose when taking off his sunnies on the climb. When he jumped clear no-one could keep up. A few moments later Nibali went past Purito easily and the stage was his. Valverde, Porte and the young Frenchmen Pinot and Bardet kept chasing and only lost a few seconds on the line. However, the style and strength of Nibali’s stage win puts him very firmly into the lead. Can anyone challenge him? Can he avoid the crashes that have taken out his strongest competition?

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