Discuss: Tour de Crash 2011?

Fotoreporter Sirotti

If there’s a topic that seems to be on everyone’s mind today, it’s all of the carnage we’ve seen at this year’s Tour de France. With the GC field significantly diminished, and a pair of absolutely ridiculous accidents caused by support vehicles, and some horrifying moments (Chris Horner’s interview; Johnny Hoogerland’s bloody arse; Alexander Vinokourov being carried back onto the road, limp-legged, by two Astana teammates),  the incidents in the first 9 stages have had a marked affect on the race.

While many feel its the crashiest tour they can remember, others have pointed out that it isn’t, statistically speaking, worse than prior editions..

It seems everyone has an explanation as to what’s to blame – jittery riders nervous because of the lack of GC separation, overly light equipment, a dangerous parcours, too many riders, too many cars. What do you think is going on? Most importantly, what should be done to fix an apparently serious problem?

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5 Responses to Discuss: Tour de Crash 2011?

  1. Erik says:

    Does anybody suspect the possibility that the roads themselves are to blame? They lay down fresh Tarmac on much of the course – have the materials used changed much? I know some were speculating that oil might have been on the road when Vino and VDB crashed.

    Also, I think the appearance of more crashes is greater due to more of them being GC guys this year – whereas it is normally a domestique.

  2. Jean-Pierre says:

    i dunno…i can see blaming the giro organizers for the course and the crashes (except for wouter's freak accident) but the tdf's course doesnt seem like the main culprit. it's the weather, the nerves, the inexperience, and the amount of cars on the road in my opinion.

    i think in the second week, youll see the wheat separated from the chaff in the mountains and after hoogerland's crash, the tdf will make things much clearer to the motorcycles and cars. the weather should get hotter and drier in the next few days as well.

  3. TomC says:

    It seems as though the peloton are all very nervous. As with all things there are a combination of factors that have all been mentioned above. The weather, a nervous peloton with small GC gaps and therefore lots of wannabe contenders. From the twittersphere it also seems as though there has been a lot of suspect riding from the peloton itself. Obviously it is hard for us bystanders to gauge but there does seem to be a consensus among those riders that i follow that there is some suspect bike handling. Couple that with narrower northern roads with varying weather conditions and crashes are inevitable. The fact that so many GC contenders have been affected simply highlights these crashes to us.

    Of course if you reduced the size of the caravan and number of motos then there may have been two less crashes this week! This seems to be the most easily applicable change, along with a reduction on the number of overall riders. Less riders means more space for the riders that are competing.

    Or as vaughters and others have said, it's all just part of bike racing, you gotta take the rough with the smooth!

  4. Russ R says:

    I can't access the cyclocosm article (from work), but I can't recall a tour in recent memory in which so many actual *contenders* have been knocked out or at least injured in the first week.

  5. cthulhu says:

    @russ: that is just because there are supposedly so many "contenders" participating. Usually there are two to four riders competing for the win in general consensus, even before the first selection happens, but this year, partly to AC looking spent, it's like everybody who can ride into the top 10 is a contender for the win/podium. If AC would appear as dominant as in the Giro or last year, one would only be seriously talking about him, AS and Cadel Evans.

    @TomC: I doubt that fewer riders will cause less crashes. If it's 180 or 190 or 200 riders, there is no big difference because the space stays the same. The space is defined through the broadness of the streets and that is saturated as soon or even earlier the number of rider reaches 50. Broader streets do help, but are no guarantee themselves as we saw two days ago, a flat, straight broad road and still they crashed. Somebody was just daydreaming or so, and that is something the riders have to manage themselves. I think it's more the general nervousness combined with poor bike handling of individual riders, plus nearly everybody thinks they have a GC leader that needs to be kept safe at the front. And even that doesn't help. Yesterday's crash that took out VDB and Vino happened at the very front of the peloton. Some teams need to ease up and be realistic about their GC ambitions and risk losing a couple of seconds if that means their and other riders won't hit the deck.

    But I heard some complains from riders, not that the course was too dangerous, but the dangerous parts were not signaled good enough or even at all. That is something the ASO should discuss with the riders.

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