PORRENTRUY, Switzerland (VN) — The smiles were back on the faces around the Garmin-Sharp team bus on Sunday.
Forty-eight hours earlier, the team’s Tour imploded with a morale-busting crash that saw the early departures of Giro d’Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal along with Tom Danielson and Robbie Hunter.
Now down to six, Garmin was back in the middle of the battle in Saturday’s stage, pinning Dave Zabriskie and David Millar on the front of the chase group in a vain effort to set up Daniel Martin.
It’s that kind of racing that will help the team keep their heads in the Tour despite the disappointment of losing all of its GC options.
“We worked hard (Saturday) to try to set up Dan (Martin). We knew it was a long shot, but the guys were very positive when they got on the bus,” Peiper said. “They were recharged to be at the front of the race. It gives them a sense of purpose instead of riding around without even a goal, that could be even worse.”
Peiper said Garmin “will not give up” and will have to reboot its strategy to look for stage victories and breakaways.
Peiper just shakes his head when he thinks about what the team lost when injuries forced Hesjedal to not start Saturday’s seventh stage.
“Ryder would have been right there,” he said. “Our goal was to try to get top-five with Ryder. Some of the guys on the bus were saying he was good enough to reach the podium. We’ll never know, and that’s the hard part.”
Peiper said Hesjedal’s confidence got a huge boost from the Giro victory, but added that the victory and the added attention will not change the Canadian’s character.
“Ryder is more confident now. He’s got that knowledge that he knows he can stay with the strongest guys on the climbs,” he said. “Ryder’s the same as he’s always been. He hasn’t changed his demeanor. He’s still laid back.”
Stage winner: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat) won as the youngest rider in this year’s Tour.
Yellow jersey: Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) defended his jersey for the first full day.
Green jersey: Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) kept the points jersey.
Polka-dot jersey: Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) overtook Chris Froome (Team Sky) by one point.
White jersey: Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) defended the white jersey.
Best team: RadioShack overtook Team Sky in team ranking.
Most aggressive: Kessiakoff also won the day’s most agro-rider prize.
Following riders fined 50CHF for “sticky water bottle”:
Mikael Cherel (Ag2r)
Cedric Pineau (FDJ)
Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel)
Andrey Kashechkin (Astana)
Baden Cooke (Orica-GreenEdge)
Romain Zingle (Cofidis)
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar)
Vladimir Karpets (Katusha)
Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol)
Grega Bole (Lampre-ISD)
Rafael Valls (Vacansoleil)
Kevin de Weert (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
Following riders fined 50CHF for “irregular feed”:
Nicolas Edet (Cofidis)
Maxime Bouet (Ag2r)
Arthur Vichot (FDJ)
Gerka Izaguirre (Euskaltel)
Sebastian Langeveld (Orica-GreenEdge)
Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale) fined 100CHF fined for “not following the instructions of the jury”
Crash in neutral start: Matt Lloyd (Lampre-ISD) light cuts to left elbow, knee after crash
Crash at 3km: Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) cuts to right shoulder, X-rays after stage
Crash at 56km: Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) fracture to right hand, trauma to left shoulder – DNF; Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), cuts to right leg, requiring stitches; Cedric Pineau (FDJ), scrapes to left knee, pain in ribs
Bram Tankink (Rabobank), general pain
Sergio Paulinho (Saxo-Tinkoff), stomach cramps
Dominik Nerz (Liquigas-Cannondale), pain in left thigh
Weather: Continued warm
Summer-like weather continues, with temperatures in the high 70s Fahrenheit, gusting winds 15-25kph, chance of afternoon showers
Monday’s stage: First time-trial test
The 99th Tour continues with the 41.5km ninth stage, the first of two individual time trials that will heavily shape the outcome of the fight for the yellow jersey. The rolling course from Acr-et-Senas to Besancon across the across the foothills of the Jura Mountains favors the pure specialists.
Fabian Cancellara and an injured Tony Martin will be fighting for the stage win, but the yellow jersey is up for grabs. A dominant performance by anyone in the top five could greatly turn the balance of power going into the Alps.