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The “three kilometer rule” came to the rescue of several riders with overall ambitions on stage 2 of the Tour de France after a late crash saw several potential GC contenders either fall or end of being held up after a crash with 2.3km to go.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) narrowly avoided the main fall but suffered a double puncture as he rode into the barriers. Like all the riders involved in the crash, he was given the same finishing time as the leaders and new yellow jersey Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).
“I couldn’t avoid it in the end. I hit the barrier and both my wheels broke,” Pogačar said at the finish.
“I’m okay. I stayed on my bike and I just hit my firt. I hope all the guy on the ground are ok. The last 3km has huge speed, especially today after the headwind. It’s really risky and hard to avoid them. I hope I’m okay. It looks like I’ve been fighting.”
Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroën) was one of the main riders who hit the deck. The Australian finished fourth overall in the 2021 Tour France but has been put on the back foot already in this year’s race after losing almost a minute during the opening time trial in Copenhagen and then falling during a tense and chaotic finale on stage 2.
“I’m okay. I just did a front flip and couldn’t avoid the crash to be honest,” said O’Connor.
“But that’s how it goes. At least it’s better than last year’s first stage crash. Today it was in the final 3km and I didn’t lose any time. I don’t really know what happened. I just couldn’t stop before it,” he added.
“I just got caught in a stupid crash with 3km to go. It’s a bit shit but it doesn’t take anything out of me.”
He wasn’t the only rider to crash with Ineos Grenadiers’ Dani Martínez one of the first riders to hit the deck after a touch of wheels.
Geraint Thomas managed to escape the carnage and finished in the same group as stage winner Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) but Martinez’s injuries are unknown at this stage. Filippo Ganna also came down in the same incident.
Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome also crashed with 2.3km to go and could be seen finishing the stage with a ripped jersey.