tOur de france
Stage win sweetness for Quickstep rider
SPA, Belgium —France’s Sylvain Chavanel, in picking up his second career Tour de France stage victory, got emotional as he crossed Monday’s finish line.
He fractured his skull riding much of the same route back in April during Liege-Bastogne-Liege, a spring classic. The injury forced him out of competition for eight weeks.
He’s a top rider for QuickStep, a team based in Belgium. The huge crowds were cheering him on in Spa. And he was congratulated by Eddy Merckx, the Belgian cycling great.
“Pure happiness,” Chavanel said, describing his emotions.
He escaped from the peloton within the first six miles and won by 3 minutes, 56 seconds. The other riders, who were panicked by the number of crashes, eventually stopped chasing Chavanel.
Blame the oil
Johan Bruyneel said the rainy conditions mixed with oil caused the crashes, and not the danger of the route. Still, there was some buzz that the majority of the riders deliberately slowed the pace to protest.
Lance Armstrong bruised his thigh and tore his pants when he slid on the next-tolast descent of the day.
“I knew I was going to be OK, but I was sliding forever,” Armstrong said. “My first thought was, ‘Where’s my bike?’”
Armstrong finished the stage with his bike.
Defending champion Alberto Contador had to use a new bike after he crashed.
Nearly two dozen riders who finished the stage were treated afterwards by the Tour doctors.
Three Americans — George Hincapie, Christian Vandevelde and Tyler Farrar — were on the injured list with multiple contusions.
Vandevelde had thought he could challenge for a podium spot. But after his crash, he was unable to get back to the riders expected to contend for the yellow jersey.
Vandevelde finished 5 minutes, 53 seconds behind Armstrong and Contador.
American Tyler Farrar grimaces in pain following a crash in Stage 2, as medics treat his wounds.
Stage winner Sylvain Chavanel, foreground, broke away from the pack early in Monday’s stage.