More crash chaos at Tour: Vinokourov, Van den Broeck, Zabriskie out
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

More crash chaos at Tour: Vinokourov, Van den Broeck, Zabriskie out

by Shane Stokes at 9:56 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Injury
 
Accidents continue to thin out list of overall contenders

Alexandre VinokourovWhat appears to be one of the most dangerous Tours in years has seen more big names abandon from the race, with Astana leader Alexandre Vinokourov, Omega Pharma Lotto captain Jurgen Van den Broeck and Garmin-Cervélo’s Dave Zabriskie all forced out following big crashes during stage nine.

The riders were part of a major crash approximately 102 kilometres into the stage to Saint Flour. They hit the deck on the slippery descent of the second category Col du Pas de Peyrol. Vinokourov ended up going off the road into the adjacent forest, and had to be physically helped out by his team-mates. He was unable to put weight on his right leg and a fracture appears possible. He didn’t attempt to continue the race.

Van den Broeck also went down in the same crash. He sat on the road for some time, attempted to continue, but then climbed off his bike. He is reported as having a shoulder injury and also had a wound cleaned on the back of his head. Team-mate Frederik Willems was another to quit the race.

Also out is Zabriskie, who appeared dazed and remained at the crash site after the accident; confirmation came soon afterwards that he is out of the race with a suspected fractured wrist. His team-mates David Millar and Christian Vande Velde were also reported as falling but have been able to continue.

The withdrawals follow retirements in recent days by other big names such as Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling), Jani Brajkovic and Chris Horner (both team RadioShack). They were all involved in various crashes.

Earlier today, several riders dropped out including Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel), Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil) and Pavel Brutt (Katusha). Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) was a non starter due to complications from a crash earlier in the Tour.

“Juan has been suffering for the past few days with the pain and his shoulder, and to try and alleviate the pain he has compensated by changing position slightly on the bike,” team manager Erik Breukink told AFP.

“Unfortunately this has caused inflammation in his groin. He had a very bad night and this morning we decided it's no longer reasonable for him to continue.”

His team leader Robert Gesink has been nursing injuries and was in difficulty earlier today. Triple Tour winner Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank SunGard) was also delayed for a while after falling; he didn’t appear badly hurt and was able to rejoin the peloton.

There is considerable debate as to the causes of the many crashes this year. Amongst the many factors suggested are the narrow roads, wet weather, using deep section rims in windy conditions and also the pressure the riders are under to remain close to the front. This can cause them to take risks going through gaps.

There have been calls to reduce the size the field for next year, perhaps by dropping team numbers from nine riders to eight.

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