Monday, 11 July 2011

Stage 9 to St Flour and Rest Day

The stage yesterday to Saint Flour was always going to be a tough day with all 2, 3 and 4 category climbs and predictably a strong breakaway group got a manageable lead. However, it all got very messy when some key rider were involved in a high speed descent crash. David Miller reported that Dave Zabriskie clipped the guard rail and then Willems and Van den Broeck went with him, Willems breaking his collar bone. Vinokourov had the worst fall and ended up in the trees with fractured femur and elbow. Zabriskie has had a record of poor bike handling and crashes over the years....only good in a straight line TT...and even then he's brought down his team mates in TdeF a few years ago!!

The other big crash was caused by a French TV crew car taking out Hoogaland (33 stiches in his legs from a barbed wire fence!!) and Fleche (severe gravel rash & bruising). Amazingly both riders finished the race. Hoogerland's finish was incredibly tough and thankfully he will have a rest day before he heads to the Pyrenees to defend his Polka Dot Jersey.

I thought that Sanchez's win was a display of very poor sportsmanship (I would prefer to use stronger vernacular but this is a public blog....) after contributing very selectively to a Voeckler led break, it would have been normal etiquette to allow the Frenchman to win the stage.

Today is a rest day and we're meeting the last couple of groups of our tour group at Toulouse airport and then we will take them all on a warm up ride along the Canal du Midi this afternoon. This canal system is an amazing 400 km link between the Atlantic Coast (NW of Bordeaux) to Sete in the Mediterranean. It was initially surveyed by Leonardo da Vinci in 1516 and then construction began in 1666. It provided an alternative transport route that avoided the long and dangerous journey via hostile Spain and the Barbary Coast. I'll take a photo and add it to the blog later.

It's a hot day today, will get to mid 30's and the forecast for the next few days is for rain, so it is likely to be a tough time for the peloton in the Pyrenees.

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