Le Tour 2018 – Stage 2
Mayhem on the flat
What is it about this year’s Tour de France that appears to be featuring more crashes in the first two stages than the entire race did in 2017? That’s probably completely wrong of course (we haven’t done the detail analysis of the stats to say one way or another) but it is curious just how much ‘action’ there has been already. The prize for most spectacular (if that’s the right word) so far goes to Lawson Craddock of Team Education First Drapac Cannondale. A discarded bottle in a feed zone on Stage 1 apparently caused him to take evasive action, career off the track and end up with a nasty laceration above his left eye that required stitches and a fracture on the spine of his scapula (shoulder blade), all of which sounds jolly painful. Fair play to Lawson for carrying on.
In fact, even more impressive is that he has promised to donate $100 for every stage he completes between now and Paris to the Alkek velodrome in Houston where he started riding. The facility has suffered in recent times (not least thanks to Hurricane Harvey) and it needs funds. Craddock has set up a fundraising page to ask people to support his quest and as of the morning of 9th July, the site was showing contributions of over $13,000. Nice one.
Stage 2 was a little less dramatic than Stage 1 – at least Chris Froome wasn’t required to repeat his extraordinarily close shave with a roadside bollard that could have been so much worse then the soft landing he did get. However, Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) did suffer a nasty crash looking for all the world like a broken collar bone the way he was holding his arm afterwards. That’s bad news for Team Astana in today’s Team Trial as too was the abandonment by Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo) and the crash of Luke Durbridge (Team Mitchelton Scott) although the latter looks like he’ll be fine for Stage 3 after all.
Peter Sagan put the disappointment of being disqualified from the 2017 race behind him to win a superb sprint at the end of Stage 2. It says a great deal about Sagan’s success at the moment that he had the choice of starting Stage 2 wearing the Green Jersey or the rainbow stripes of the World Champion. He opted for the latter but there will be no such debate today. He will start wearing the Maillot Jeune though whether he is still wearing it at the end of the day is doubtful. That”s because Stage 3, the Team Time Trial, is a tricky little number. It does offer the chance for a couple of the GC teams to claw some time back, though the pressure’s on Team Sky as they really do need to get Chris Froome closer to the top of the leaderboard. The bookies appear to have Team Sky favourites for the TTT but we think BMC will beat them to it (which would do Richie Porte the power of good). But the result is nowhere near a foregone conclusion. At 35km it’s a long one and the gaps could quickly get extended if teams don’t get it right. Certainly the teams are taking this one extremely seriously. Expect more shaking up in the GC by the end of the day.