LES LI­AISONS DANGEREUSES

Cyclist - - Insight -

Four of the pre-race favourites con­ceded more than seven min­utes af­ter a 25-rider pile-up hap­pened on a two-mile stretch of tidal cause­way that was still cov­ered with sea­wa­ter barely an hour be­fore the race ar­rived. ‘It had a huge in­flu­ence on the out­come of the Tour and it was folly to take the race there,’ says writer Richard Moore. When the Tour re­turned to the Île de Noir­moutier six years later, the route took the bridge as op­posed to the sea­weed­strewn cause­way. At­tempted plans to spice up the Tour back­fired when 14 out of 20 teams protested a ban on ra­dio ear­pieces by slow-pedalling dur­ing Stage 10 from Li­mo­ges to Is­soudun, which was won by Mark Cavendish. The UCI de­cided against re­peat­ing the ex­per­i­ment on Stage 13 – ‘to put an end to the con­tro­versy which is com­pro­mis­ing the run­ning of the Tour’. Prior to the race, Jens Voigt had voiced his con­cerns: ‘Next they’ll be ask­ing us to ride for two days with­out ca­bles in our brakes.’ A TV car try­ing to over­take a break­away knocked Juan An­to­nio Flecha to the floor and sent Dutch­man Johnny Hooger­land fly­ing into a barbed wire fence af­ter swerving to avoid hit­ting a tree. The driver was kicked off the Tour but re­turned the next year, while Hooger­land needed 33 stitches. Four rid­ers, in­clud­ing Alexan­der Vi­nok­ourov, were also forced out af­ter a pile-up on a de­scent, leav­ing Fabian Can­cel­lara to sug­gest the or­gan­is­ers ‘were look­ing for the most dan­ger­ous roads’.

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