Rabobank trying to salvage their Tour de France after stage six catastrophe
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Friday, July 6, 2012

Rabobank trying to salvage their Tour de France after stage six catastrophe

by Kyle Moore at 8:42 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Gesink, Mollema, Kruijswijk all lose time, Wynants out

Bauke MollemaAfter getting off to a fairly good, if uneventful start to the Tour de France, it has all gone wrong for Rabobank after a difficult stage six. The Dutch team had its whole roster get stuck behind the mass crash with 25km to race, with all the men in orange either going down, giving up bikes, or being unable to get around.

General classification threat Bauke Mollema was the squad’s first finisher, in 88th place, 2’09” behind stage winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale). Mollema was one of a number of top ten favourites who took the two-minute deficit, while for Gesink and Kruijswijk, it was even worse. After initially getting pushed back toward the chase group containing Mollema, Gesink was obviously in a spot of bother, eventually losing contact and being paced home by Kruijswijk, 3’31” back.

While time loss is likely the worst to come of it for Rabobank’s three leaders, domestique Martin Wynants has been forced to withdraw. Wynants came down in a smaller crash after 35 kilometres, but finished the stage reporting pain in his chest and difficulty breathing. Upon reaching the hospital, he was diagnosed with two broken ribs and a punctured lung.

“There are still no meaningful words to say. We must first see how we stand tomorrow,” bemoaned team manager Nico Verhoeven. “For now we must focus on the three days before the rest day on Tuesday to minimize the damage, and if we feel better, then we will see. We’ve actually lost the war, but maybe we can come back and win some battles. We’ve certainly not lost courage, but today is a dark day.”

Gesink actually came down twice during the day – he was taken out in the same crash that claimed Wynants early in the stage. Then he was caught up in the big wreck near the finish, resulting in the time loss.

“At the moment, I’m not in super great pain,” Gesink said after the stage, perhaps comparing himself to others worse off. “In the beginning the course was a little wet. We went around a wet roundabout. [André] Greipel came under me. But that was nothing, really. It ran for the rest of the stage like a train, everybody was good. We were just in front, trying to stay out of trouble. There was a moment when nothing was wrong, it was dry and the road was straight. Then we came together.”

Mollema also gave his account. “The speed was high. I fell on Robert’s back and the only thing I thought was, ‘make yourself small.’ I felt everyone fall over me, that was weird,” he explained.

He was quickly up and moving again, but it was too late, as the remaining peloton had moved off. “I hate the time loss more than these wounds,” Mollema stated. “Tomorrow will still hurt, but it will improve. The time loss is totally worthless. I looked at the clock over the finish line. Two minutes ten, that is a lot.”

Trusted Rabobank domestique Laurens Ten Dam was just moving into the peloton when the crash hit, and the Dutchman did all he could.

“I had one of the falls earlier, so I was pretty careful when it happened,” Ten Dam said. “I was still behind, and had just returned. It was like a trench, abrasions everywhere, people screaming in pain. I quickly gave my bike to Bauke and pushed him on. I couldn’t do any more.

“It was really like a battlefield, that’s the right word.”


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