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‘Scary’ moment in Tour de France carnage

Team Ineos rider Luke Rowe says the decision to call a truce on the rain-lashed and treacherous opening stage of the Tour de France was the right move and blasted a rival as “stupid” for ignoring it.The stage, which started and ended on Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, was won by Norway’s Alexander Kristoff. However, it…

Team Ineos rider Luke Rowe says the decision to call a truce on the rain-lashed and treacherous opening stage of the Tour de France was the right move and blasted a rival as “stupid” for ignoring it.

The stage, which started and ended on Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, was won by Norway’s Alexander Kristoff. However, it was marred by so many crashes that it became a lottery before agreement was reached to slow the pace to avoid further damage.

“Whilst you want to race and put on the best show, you could see how many crashes there were and that was with the three descents at a very careful speed,” said Rowe, who was thrown off last year’s Tour for a punch.

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In the absence of previous winners Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, 30-year-old Rowe from Cardiff might not be the key rider at Ineos. However, he is an influential voice even if rivals may not want to hear him.

Rowe claimed Colombian rider Miguel Angel Lopez and his Astana team had not co-operated with the truce. Lopez crashed heavily into a traffic sign.

“As a result their leader was left on his back. They made themselves look pretty stupid,” Rowe said.

The Tour de France should have been held in June, but the two-month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic means more poor weather is expected.

“Most teams had like four of their riders hit the ground,” Rowe said.

“The problem was it hasn’t rained for two, three months, then it rains and it was literally like ice.

“I think half the teams had around half of their team who hit the ground today.”

Accidents in cycling have been headline events in recent weeks. Belgian rookie Remco Evenepoel plunged head first into a ravine at the Tour of Lombardy while sprinter Fabio Jakobsen said he felt “lucky to be alive” after a horror crash at the Tour of Poland.

“We got this riders organisation with a couple of guys in each team and we spoke about it last night, how we can look after each other when needed,” Rowe said.

His team leader and defending Tour champion Egan Bernal looked calm and relaxed after the stage.

“It was a really dangerous race but I’m okay, it was quite stressful. There were a tremendous amount of falls and you really had to concentrate,” the 23-year-old said.

Bora-Hansgrohe rider Peter Sagan, fifth on Saturday, said “the last mile was crazy”.

“Actually the last five was entirely with a headwind. Everyone was nervous. It was a huge mess. All sprints like that, with a headwind, are always a lottery,” the former world champion said.

Ireland’s Sam Bennett of the Deceuninck team, who was fourth, said the truce was the correct decision.

“It was a dangerous day with the road so slippery,” Bennett said.

“I was fine on the climb, the problem was that we went slow and neutralised the descent. Others were able to get into the peloton.

“But I think it was a good decision to do everything to be safe even if when you have made an effort, you want the race to continue.”

Frenchman Thibaut Pinot claimed it was like “riding on ice”.

“It was a hard day, one of the hardest days of my life and I think it was the same for everyone,” Pinot told VeloNews.

“It was scary.”

Three-time cycling world champion Peter Sagan tweeted: “It was a dangerous 1st stage at @letour and the finale was crazy. Sometimes you need luck in those sprints but the good thing is we avoided the hard crashes.”

— AFP

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