“La Tournée des Accidents” or “The Tour of Crashes” headlined one regional newspaper after this long but flat transitional stage. While the 243 km jaunt from Liévin to the prosperous farm town of Évreux saw a solo break from Regis Simon gain more than 10 minutes at one point, Systeme U’s ever vigilant chasing efforts, and a superb last-minute winning attack by the classy Spaniard Pello Ruiz-Cabestany, the real news was the astonishing number of riders falling off their bikes.
At least 40 riders hit the tarmac on this dangerous stage. Knetemann, Claude Criquielion, Samuel Cabrera, Cees Priem, Bernard Vallet, and Saturday’s crash victims Eric Heiden and Jeff Pierce of Team 7-Eleven had wounds serious enough to require stitches. Commented Hinault after the stage, “There are too many riders and the roads are too small. That means crashes.”
Hampsten added, “When it’s slow, there’s crashes; when it’s fast, there’s crashes. It must be nerves, because people are hitting their brakes all the time.”
Among those forced to abandon was ’85 Tour neophyte winner Fabio Parra of Colombia. With 19 days of racing left, Herrera was left with only four Cafe de Colombia teammates — a cruel handicap for someone many felt was one of the Tour’s real overall contenders.
The GC after today’s stage:
1. Dominique Gaigne 15:57:08
2. Marie :06
3. Mottet :09
4. Fignon :13
5. Madiot :25
25. Bauer 2:00
41. Hampsten 2:21
91. Alex Stieda 4:43 (KOM jersey)
108. Phinney 5:21
109. Heiden s.t.
145. Grewal 5:39
168. Carmichael 5:54
This race footage shows the chase catching the break and the finish by a highly motivated Pello Ruiz.
Please join us tomorrow for Stage 5 of the Tour de France, a brief 124 transitional stage from Évreux to Villers-sur-Mer.
This stage coverage brought to you by Bicycle Road Racing: The Complete Guide for Training and Competition by U.S. National Coaching Director Eddie B.
Bicycle Road Racing: The Complete Guide for Training and Competition
Paperback with 100 photographs and 50 illustrations
288 pp., $22.50, 0-941950-07-7
Available at your favorite pro bike shop or direct from the publisher, Velo-news Books.