Late Race Crash Mars Field Sprint In ToursThu 11 Jul 2013
Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) outsprinted Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) in Tours to take his third victory of the century Tour de France. A pile-up 2.4km from the stage 12 finish marred the bunch kick. Matt Goss was caught out by the crash and unable to contest the sprint.
“Our plan today was to support Gossy as best as possible in the final kilometres,” said Sport Director Matt White. “Things were going pretty well until they weren’t. Svein crashed as he led the peloton through a roundabout and Gossy was caught next to the crash that ended up splitting the bunch.”
Daryl Impey managed to avoid the mayhem. With most lead-out trains involved in the pile-up, the sprinters were forced to fend for themselves in the finale. Traditionally the final lead-out man for Goss, Impey accelerated for a personal result today.
“Impey was ahead of the crash,” White noted. “He put himself up for the sprint and came away with sixth place.”
The early action was far less dramatic than the closing kilometres. A five rider breakaway enjoyed a lengthy spell up the road, gaining nine minutes before teams with an interest in a sprint combined forces to pull them back.
“The first attack stayed away,” said White. “It was a very controlled race after that. We had a strong cross-tailwind for most of the stage, so it was a fast day due to the weather conditions.”
The break splintered in the final hour of racing. The last man standing rejoined the peloton 6km from the line. Stuart O’Grady and Svein Tuft manned the front as the field powered towards the finish. Tuft was setting a fierce tempo when he lost his front wheel through a roundabout and slid across the road.
“It looked worse than it was,” said White. “Svein lost some skin off his elbow but seems okay other than that.”
“Luckily we didn’t have anyone go down in the pile-up at 2.4km,” White added. “Gossy was next to the crash, and we had riders stuck beyond but no one hit the ground.”
Racing continues tomorrow with another stage for the sprinters. It’s one of the last likely sprints before final stage showdown on the Champs-Élysées.
“Anything other than a bunch sprint at the end of the day would be a surprise,” said White. “It’s one of the last chances for the sprint trains to snag a stage win.”