Editor’s note: Dan Wuori is one of the funniest Twitter bards in the cycling world (follow him at @dwuori). This month, he will be expanding a bit beyond 140 characters to share periodic journals during the Tour de France. Today’s is the tenth.
Stage 9 will almost certainly be remembered as one of the Tour’s most bizarre and gut-wrenching.
The day began with images of Saxo Bank-Sungard’s Alberto Contador popping inexplicably off the left side of the peloton and colliding with a spectator. While the reigning champion managed to re-join the peloton without incident, video captures of the crash left many debating whether the incident may, in fact, have been a “magic Karpets ride.”
A dramatic crash on the descent of the Pas de Peyrol resulted in the abandonment of multiple riders (including the GC leaders of both Astana and Omega Pharma-Lotto). Kazakhstan’s Alexander Vinokourov — whose characteristically brazen attack was a highlight of Saturday’s stage 8 — was carried from a roadside ravine by his Astana teammates, having reportedly suffered a broken pelvis. Jurgen Van den Broeck, meanwhile, reportedly sustained a broken shoulder blade — departing the race along with his Omega Pharma teammate Frederik Willems.
The crash also claimed popular Garmin-Cervelo time trialist Dave Zabriskie. The American — who had aspired to become the first vegan to abandon due to hunger — was suspected of breaking a wrist.
The briefly neutralized peloton allowed a breakaway including Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler, Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha and Vacansoleil-DCM’s Johnny Hoogerland to develop a lead of seven minutes plus.
In a shocking turn of events, a passing French TV car clipped Flecha — knocking him violently to the ground and sending Hoogerland flying backwards into a barbed wire fence. To the amazement of spectators, both were back on their bikes shortly thereafter and finished the stage bleeding and bandaged. Fittingly, both were awarded the day’s “fighting spirit” award — the first time two riders have shared the distinction.
In the end, the breakaway’s lead proved too much for the peloton to overcome, with Rabobank’s Luis-Leon Sanchez taking the stage and Voeckler seizing the yellow jersey and a GC lead of 1:49 over Sanchez.
Monday will mark a welcome rest day (the first of two). After nine crash-filled stages, the remaining riders will use the opportunity to recuperate in the comfort of hotel rooms the size of restroom stalls.
Racing will resume on Tuesday as stage 10 will see the peloton travel 158km from Aurillac to Carmaux (France’s largest buyer and seller of used cars and trucks).
Dan’s pick for stage 10: Locusts.