Once again, the nerves of the first week of the Tour de France struck the peloton, doing little to change the leaderboard but ending the chances for several GC hopefuls. Crashes are common, and it’s incredible what the riders endure. Unless they’re getting loaded into an ambulance, most cyclists drag themselves to the finish line, grimacing in pain, sometimes only able to hold the handlebar with one hand. It doesn’t end there, either. Assuming they can sleep through the pain of the bed linens against their road rash, they have to climb stiffly back on the bike the next morning and crank out another 200 km or so.
Not only will a crash result in injury, but a pile-up causes delays. It’s pretty remarkable to see: a huge stream of color moving smoothly down the road suddenly cleaved in half. The front half nevers breaks pace, and the cyclists have to pick themselves and their bikes out of the wreckage. Unless the “maillot jaune”, the race leader, is involved in the crash, race etiquette allows any riders ahead of the crash to continue down the road, gaining a valuable advantage. Sometimes, they’ll even whip up the pace to build the lead. The riders involved in or behind the crash must then spend extra energy to rejoin the leaders, but first they must wait for the debris to clear, sometimes changing tires or even bikes, before racing to catch those lucky (or crafty) enough to be in front of the crash. In today’s stage, many riders picked up their bikes and ran through the grass on the side of the road to get past the fallen cyclists and resume racing. » Continue reading “Crashes and Chaos in Stage 3 of le Tour”