Luke Rowe (INEOS Grenadiers) lamented the conditions that led to a lot of crashes during Stage 1 of the Tour de France, but didn’t lay the blame at the feet of organisers or riders, with the exception of the Astana squad.
“I think that the problem is that it hasn’t rained here for two or three months, literally,” said Rowe of the conditions. “Then you have one day when it rains and it was like ice. I think that most teams, at least half their teams, have touched down today. Luckily we passed it.”
INEOS suffered a blow with both Pavel Sivakov and Andrey Amador crashing twice during the race, with Sivakov in particular looking badly beaten up and under a cloud to complete his important work in the mountains for team leader Egan Bernal.
“We had a couple of touchdowns but in general we came through,’ said Rowe. “We got this riders organisation - or group - and there are a couple of guys from each team in there and we spoke about it last night with how we’d approach the Tour de France in general and look after each other and do the right thing when needed.”
Rowe was one of the riders to try and calm things down during the race, but he wasn’t listened to by Kazakhstani squad Astana, who continued to try and push the pace down the descent from the Côte de Rimiez. They paid for their hubris as Miguel Angel Lopez crashed dramatically in the slippery conditions, and subsequently, the pace slowed.
"Whilst you want to race and put on the best show, you could see how many crashes there were and that was with the three descents at a very careful speed,” said Rowe. "I have to say 'chapeau' to the whole peloton, minus Astana to hit it down one climb, and as a result, their leader was left on his back. They made themselves look pretty stupid but apart from them, chapeau to the whole peloton.”
Astana have reported that Lopez is fine after his crash, with the rest of the squad also in good condition.
Others in the race, weren’t so lucky, with Rafael Valls (Bahrain Mclaren) and John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal) eliminated from the race.
The Tour de France continues with Stage 2, a mountainous affair that will test the climbers' legs early. Stage 2 will be broadcast from 8.30pm AEST on SBS HD, with the stage depart from 8.50pm AEST on the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker App and SBS On Demand.