Tour de France: Mixed fortunes for Vacansoleil-DCM riders on team’s race debut
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Saturday, July 02, 2011

Tour de France: Mixed fortunes for Vacansoleil-DCM riders on team’s race debut

by Ben Atkins at 6:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Lieuwe Westra in the race’s first breakaway but five riders brought down in crashes

thomas de gendtVacansoleil-DCM had something of a mixed day as it made its debut in the Tour de France. The Dutch team managed to get one of its aggressive breakaway riders in the day’s long escape, with Lieuwe Westra getting away along with Jérémy Roy (FDJ) and Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar). With five of its riders brought down in crashes late in the stage though, Vacansoliel-DCM is nursing arguably more than its fair share of bumps and bruises.

For Westra though, the breakaway, which went as soon as the flag was dropped to start the stage, was all about getting publicity for his sponsors, not for taking a victory.

“Normally I attack to win,” said Westra after the stage, “but in this situation – with only three riders – I immediately knew that that would not be possible; this is the Tour de France and not an amateur race.

“Not one single moment did I dream about winning,” he continued. “Anyway, I did my job. Some riders maybe don’t show themselves in three weeks, but that’s not in the character of our team. It’s really a pity that this stage ended like this for us with all these crashes; nevertheless we’ll try to get more success the coming days.”

Aside from Westra’s presence in the break though, the team did not enjoy a great deal of luck, with the crashes in the closing kilometres affecting them seemingly more than most. Marco Marcato and Borut Bozic were both taken down in the big crash that split the peloton inside 9km to go, Roman Feillu and Björn Leukemans came down in the next one with 2km to go, while Thomas De Gendt (pictured) crashed inside the final kilometre.

Most riders escaped injury, aside from a cut chin sustained by Bozic, but De Gendt was taken to hospital after the stage. The Belgian, who has been one of the best riders in his first season with the team with stage victories in Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse, was diagnosed with a fracture to the top of his right collarbone and dislocation of both thumbs.

Despite these injuries though, the 24-year-old will start the team time trial tomorrow afternoon.

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