LISIEUX, France (AFP) — French champion Sylvain Chavanel admitted he came close to abandoning the Tour de France on Thursday due to the pain of injuries suffered in the fifth stage.
Chavanel was among five Quick Step riders to crash on Wednesday as strong winds and the narrow roads combined with a nervous peloton to leave the bodies piled up.
Despite starting the 226.5 km stage from Dinan to Lisieux upbeat in spite of suffering shoulder injuries, Chavanel finished over 12 minutes behind stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen and admitted: “I was very close to abandoning.”
As well as a blow for his team, it would be a blow for the hosts. Chavanel won two of the six stages won by French riders in 2010.
He added: “It was a real slog but I managed to catch up with a group and finish the stage.
“It’s only thanks to my sporting director that I continued. He told me that as French champion I had to respect the jersey and to respect the Tour de France.
“He’s right, but if it was any other race I wouldn’t be here. I’m in a lot of pain and I can’t move my shoulder. We’ll just have to take it day by day.”
Belgian teammate Tom Boonen, the 2005 world champion, struggled to finish the fifth stage after crashing and picking up scrapes all down his right side.
He said: “It was a very hard day, not exactly the best stage to try and get over the effects of a crash.
“The rain, the distance and the wind made it hard. I’m going through one of the most difficult experiences you can have after a crash.
“Now I just can’t wait for the rest day.”