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Christian Vande Velde and Fränk Schleck return to site of Stockeau massacre

LIÈGE, Belgium (VN) – The peloton returns to the scene of the Stockeau massacre in a race for the first time Sunday. The descent of the Ardennes climb was the site of the massive crash that led to the neutralization of stage 3 at last year’s Tour de France.

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LIÈGE, Belgium (VN) – The peloton returns to the scene of the Stockeau massacre in a race for the first time Sunday. The descent of the Ardennes climb was the site of the massive crash that led to the neutralization of stage 2 at last year’s Tour de France.

Fränk Schleck assesses the damage after stage 2 at the 2010 Tour.

Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervélo) left the race after the stage with fractured ribs and his teammate Tyler Farrar continued with a fractured wrist. Fränk Schleck (Leopard-Trek) also went down and abandoned the following day after adding a broken collarbone to the pain of his Stockeau crash. Both riders trained on the Stockeau, the third of ten tough climbs in Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, this week.

“Probably 100 riders crashed that day,” Schleck told VeloNews. “There will be a lot of riders scared on Sunday, too.”

Vande Velde said earlier in the week that he hadn’t thought yet about returning to the climb, also called Stèle Eddy Merckx. As he lined up for the roll-out at the Amstel Gold Race, Vande Velde said, “I hadn’t really thought about it until now. I just hope it’s dry.”

Schleck called the incident the wildest scene he’d ever witnessed in a race. “That was bad. That was very bad,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like that before and I’ve seen some big hail in Tour de Suisse one year. That was the worst I’ve seen.”

The weather forecast for Sunday is much the same as the rest of the classics season: warm and dry. The high in Liège is forecast at 75º Fahrenheit with sunny skies. Schleck and Vande Velde welcomed the weather.

“That was just a mess,” said Schleck. “Let’s face it. Motorbikes crashed. Mechanics jumped out of the cars falling by running down there. That was wrong… Carnage.”