Sean Kelly, one of the hard men of the peloton when I was first becoming interested in the sport way back in the day, implies in a chat with the working press that this modern lot is a shower of eejits — and I’m not inclined to argue with him after watching stage six of Le Show Beeg, in which pretty much everybody save the Eurosport commentators, ASO management and Paddy McQuaid found themselves on the tarmac, in the ditch or inside an ambulance.
“These kinds of crashes happen, but you have to ask, how did it happen?” Kelly told my man Andrew Hood over to VeloNews.com. “Nobody wants to brake anymore. Everyone is pushing to be in the top 30 riders. Everybody is taking so many risks, and they will have crashes because of that.”
From your lips to God’s ear, Sean a chara. Today’s appalling clusterfuck on a narrow section of road, which left dozens of riders on the floor and sent several out of the Tour altogether, looked as though someone from the Spandex Liberation Army had set off a roadside bomb as the peloton rode past. Andy tallies up the body count here.
Some crashes can be blamed on course designers. Others can be chalked up to ineptitude (yes, pro cyclists fuck up just like we do, only at higher speed). I don’t know whom to pin this one on, other than upon the collective mindset that everyone — sprinters, wanna-bes, winless guys fretting over next year’s contract, GC men and their minders, and anyone in a Euskaltel-Euskadi jersey — just has to be at the front, all at the same time.
There isn’t enough room. Forget about UCI regulations — it’s a violation of the laws of physics. You can’t squeeze a thousand pounds of Lycra through a garden hose. There’s gonna be an explosion. And we saw it today.
Editor’s note: Incidentally, in case you’re wondering where I am lately, I’m helping Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey with running commentary on the 2012 Tour over at Red Kite Prayer. Well, maybe “helping” isn’t quite the word we’re looking for here. “Hindering” may be more accurate. Whatever. I’m there, and you should be too. See you.