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“The yellow jersey gave me a huge boost for the cobblestone stage tomorrow. I guess I have to keep the positive and look forward to the second part of the season.” 

Photo: A.S.O.








06.07.2015 @ 21:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The Tour de France never ceases to entertain high drama, and Monday’s third stage from Anvers to the finish on the Mur de Huy saw a nasty hi-speed crash 58 kilometers from the end, which resulted in numerous riders sprawling on the tarmac and tumbling onto the grassy roadside, stopping the race for some 10 minutes.


Fabian Cancellara was caught in the melee, and although he was able to rejoin the race when it restarted, it was clear he was riding with too much discomfort and was soon left behind, regulating his reign in yellow to one day.


After the long delay, it was a few kilometers before the peloton kicked back into action, but with the crucial hills drawing closer the race hit full speed again. 


Although the yellow jersey had fallen from its grasp, Trek Factory Racing turned full attention to the finish on the Mur de Huy. Bob Jungels led into the wall as he helped position Bauke Mollema and Julian Arredondo for the punishing uphill finish. 


With 500 meters to go the punchers punched and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) opened a gap that no one could close and sealed the win.


Mollema and Arredondo could not react to Rodriguez’s acceleration, but both held strong to finish 10th and 13th respectively.


“The last two climbs I did not feel so good, but I knew it was important to start at the front," Mollema said. Bob Jungels put me in a really good position into the Mur. In the last 500 meters when they went full gas I could not follow anymore; I just did my own tempo – full gas – to the finish, and then in the last 100 meters I was able to close the gap to a small group with Nibali and Quintana so that was good. So it was a good day for the GC.


"It was totally different than Flèche Wallonne. The riders are different and we have already done two days of racing. And there is more stress here than at Flèche, you see that with all the crashes. Losing Fabian like that is a pity, we wanted to defend the yellow jersey and we didn’t get a chance to do it and that’s a shame.”


Mollema, who lost 90 seconds yesterday to misfortune, stayed with the GC contenders today, a positive sign in a dismal day where the team had no chance to defend yellow.


“I was almost in the middle of the crash – one guy in front of me crashed, and his bike was almost coming in my way. I was lucky the bike bounced back the other way and then behind me Fabian crashed and some more guys. I was lucky, and for Fabian it was just bad luck,” Mollema explained about the horrible crash.


The yellow jersey shifted to the shoulders of Sky’s Chris Froome who finished a close second to Rodriguez and gained some crucial seconds on his GC rivals.


In the crash, Fabian Cancellara had little time to react. He hit the grassy roadside and launched headfirst over his handlebars to land on his backside – the same back he injured in E3 Harelbeke crash that ended his Classics season.


“My back doesn’t feel good, and for sure it’s a big disappointment. I expected to defend yellow today, not lying on the ground at 80km/h. One day you win, one day you lose. Like this, is for sure not nice," he said.


The race was neutralized, then stopped, for a total time of 20 minutes to allow the emergency vehicles attending the victims to regain contact to the race. Those who could ride on, including Cancellara, made it back to the stopped peloton, but the severity of the crash had most slip off the back in the ensuing kilometers.


Cancellara fought to stay with the peloton until the first climb where he had little choice but to ride his own pace to the end, losing over 11 minutes and any chance to regain yellow back in tomorrow’s cobblestone stage.


Cancellara described the crash: “It was on a slight downhill, and I saw the crash happening on the right side and I was hoping I could sneak between the riders in the field, but there was a drainage gutter and in the end I got hit from the back, and hit this drain thing and I don’t even know what happened after that.


“But thank you to the race organization to neutralize it. When you see so many people on the ground…it was the right thing to do.”


“With all those guys all over the place, there was no ambulance left in the race and you cannot go on racing without an ambulance in the race,” sports director Alain Gallopin told


Asked about the condition of Cancellara, who was sent tumbling over his bike and crashed heavily on roadside grass, the Frenchman said it was too early to make predictions.


“It's hard to know exactly what's wrong. It's hurting all over. Fabian will receive medical checks and we'll issue a statement once we know what's wrong. He showed great courage again today but you don't have the choice in these circumstances.”


Fabian Cancellara was whisked off to the hospital for a CT scan shortly after he crossed the finish line of the crash-marred stage three at the Tour de France, and hours later the news confirmed the worst:  two transverse process fractures in two vertebrae bones of the lower back.


It is the identical injury he sustained in E3 Harelbeke last March, but this time the L3 and L4 vertebrae on the right side were the culprits, not the L2 and L3 on the left side he injured in Harelbeke.   


“This is incredibly disappointing for me,” said Cancellara. “The team was on a high with the yellow jersey and were very motivated to defend it. We have had a lot of crashes and injuries since the start of the season, and we finally had a great 24 hours but now it’s back to bad luck. One day you win, one day you lose.”   


It's a big blow to Trek Factory Racing only three days into the Tour de France and a day after Cancellara had claimed his 29th yellow jersey.

The recovery time was lengthy last time around; in fact Cancellara had just rebounded to top form from the March crash that ended his Classics campaign.


“It was very hard to come back in shape after my crash in Harelbeke and getting the confidence,” Cancellara added. “The yellow jersey gave me a huge boost for the cobblestone stage tomorrow. I guess I have to keep the positive and look forward to the second part of the season.” 



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