Dan Martin Diary - Day 12: Steering clear of trouble as the sprinters fall
‘It could have been a ruinous end to the day, but overall it wasn’t bad’
Dan Martin’s Garmin-Sharp team-mate Jack Bauer is treated along with Lotto Belisol rider Gregory Henderson during yesterday’s 12th stage. Photograph: AP Photo
For those of us who are looking to ride well in the mountain stages and the general classification of the Tour de France, the flat stages are dangerous, in terms of the risks of crashes.
It was a close call yesterday inside the final three kilometres when a big group of riders became entangled and clattered to the ground.
Myself and Garmin-Sharp team-mate Andrew Talansky were pretty close to it; it is testament to the bike handling in the peloton that a lot more riders didn’t hit the deck. The 20 guys in front of us had both wheels locked up, trying to stop. And everybody held it upright.
Another team-mate, Jack Bauer, went down in the crash and ended up under a load of riders, but he seems to be okay.
His helmet saved him.
It could have been a ruinous end to the day, but overall it wasn’t bad.
There is a lot of debate about safety at the Tour. It’s a sport that has crashes, of course, but there always seems to be a lot more of them at the finishes of the Tour. It’s happened towards the end of every one of the sprint stages.
I am not sure why that is, but a big reason is the importance of the race and the fact that a lot of guys are willing to take more risks to be up there. It’s not fair to blame it on the general classification guys, as some do. It is more a case of riders trying everything to be in the top 10 of a stage, as this race is of such a high importance to teams and sponsors, and in terms of personal results.
People take extra chances to be up there and there are just too many guys riding on their limit.
That’s bad for the sprinters, of course, but also for the general classification riders. We just want to stay out of trouble, but we also are aware that if gaps appear in the bunch, you can end up losing a lot of time.
The UCI has a rule where if there is a crash inside the final three kilometres and riders are delayed as a result, they get the same time as the group with whom they are with.
That’s good, that helps, but I don’t think it is enough. If there are simply gaps as a result of the racing, you can lose out that way. It means that the general classification riders have to keep pushing forward and that means getting in the way of the sprinters’ teams.
What’s the way around the problem? Well, maybe the three kilometre rule should be implemented every day, happening automatically instead of waiting for a crash for that to happen.