Just when I thought it could not get worse, today's Stage 9 of the TdF was marred by even more bizarre and consequential crashes than any stage so far. First, Contador hit the deck early in the stage. He quickly remounted and rejoined the peloton, but that's his fourth crash in nine days of racing. More significantly, a huge pileup at the front of the peloton on a fast and bendy downhill section took out at least two GC contenders as well as America's top time-trialist. Alexander Vinokourov broke his femur; Jurgen Van Den Broeck fractured a shoulder blade; and Dave Zabriskie broke his wrist in the accident. The lone remaining Team Radio Shack contender, Andreas Kloden, also went down hard and hurt his back; he finished the stage, but team manager Johan Bruyneel is worried about his ability to continue, even after a rest day tomorrow (see here).
Most bizarre, and inexcusable of all, an irresponsible media car took out two of the four riders in the breakaway, Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland, in a truly horrific crash. Amazingly, both riders were able to continue and finish the stage. One can only hope that they will manage to start the next stage on Tuesday. The car hit Flecha, pushing him into to Thomas Voeckler, who somehow managed to keep his bike upright - he finished the stage in second place behind Luis Leon Sanchez, and took over the maillot jaune as GC leader. Hoogerland, riding immediately behind the pair, went over the top of Flecha and somersaulted into a barbed wire fence from which he was extricated with great difficulty and that left him with several deep lacerations. Upon finishing the stage, Hoogerland was rewarded with the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey, which he earned during the stage.
Here is a video of the crash:
Tour de France : Une voiture France Télévisions... by thony911
And here is a photo of the aftermath:
The driver and the car were kicked out of the Tour, but I think the driver should be charged with reckless driving (or its equivalent under French law).
It looks increasingly as if this year's Tour de France will be won by the last cyclist left pedaling.