One of the biggest races started again yesterday. The 100th edition of The Tour de France took off. To celebrate this, the event started on an island. The Tour organisation already announced years ago that they were working towards a start on the island Corsica. Moreover, it’s also the first time in the history of the Tour that the island is visited. And so, 198 riders flew to an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Unfortunately, this was not for a vacation. The sun will colour their skin, but that will be on the roads of the ‘island of beauty’, trying to win one of the three stages there.
The race began with a long ride on the island. There was a breakaway, the peloton let them go easily and they were caught long before the finish. These kinds of stages usually end up in a sprint. Well, usually? First the organisation had to get rid of a bus stuck on the finish line. To get into detail, it was the bus of the Orica-GreenEDGE team. The bus driver had taken VIPs to their hotel and therefore the bus was too late. The gantry, which was up first to let the buses through, had already been let down. The bus driver didn’t know this and someone of the organisation told him to move forward. This was followed by a big bang, no movement in the bus and a broken gantry. And this happened when the riders were only 20 kilometres away from that same finish line. The press officer of the Orica-GreenEDGE team stated on Twitter that the bus ‘is parked really badly right now’.
© Graham Watson
Panic at the finish! The police was running around, the organisation in total confusion. There’s a solution for everything, but nobody could have predicted that a bus would get stuck under the gantry at the finish line. As a consequence of this, the finish was moved to the 3k line. The jury told this through the radio to the team directors in the cars. But in the meantime, the bus was pulled out of the gantry and moved off the road. Immediately, the finish was replaced back to the ‘normal’ finish line. This was confusing for the riders. Although, most of the riders had no idea, according to the surprised reaction of the winner of the stage, Marcel Kittel, and the reaction of Laurens ten Dam, a rider from Belkin: “I heard something was wrong, but I thought it was some French strike again.” A couple of hours after this happened, several fictive Twitter accounts were made up, like ‘Orica Bus Driver’ and ‘Orica-GreenEdge bus’.
This wasn’t the only thing that happened in the last kilometres. There was a big crash too. In the preparation for the sprint, riders are always taking a lot of risks. That doesn’t always turn out well and also yesterday it ended up in a big crash. Tony Martin was the biggest victim, ending up with a concussion and a contusion on his left lung and several wounds on his hip, elbow and back. Any other human being would have dropped out of the race, but not Tony Martin. Maybe the text message of winner Marcel Kittel, a few hours after the race, made him decide to start the next day. Though, other riders were lucky too. Bauke Mollema came face to face with a light post when he tried to avoid the crash. He missed it by just a few inches, but crashed over a bike from another rider. His bike was trashed, but Mollema got away with a few scratches.
© Graham Watson
That was day one of the 100th Tour. Hectic? For sure. Chaos? Of course. Welcome to the 100th edition of the Tour de France. And for those wondering whether the kangaroo in the bus of Orica-GreenEDGE is alright or not: he’s fine. He just slept through all the drama, as you can see in the photo below.