From celebrations to crash carnage

BEN SWIFT ON STAGE THREE OF THE 2011 TOUR DE FRANCE
BEN SWIFT ON STAGE THREE OF THE 2011 TOUR DE FRANCE

What a difference a day makes.

One minute we’re celebrating Team Sky’s first stage win of the Tour de France and the next we’re stunned by the loss of our team leader Bradley Wiggins.

Bradley broke his collar bone after being involved in a crash 40km from the finish of stage seven’s 218km race from le Mans to Chateauroux.

I was further down the road but I could hear the bikes crash into each other. It’s like a tidal wave as one after another goes down.

We were all gutted for Bradley but that’s bike racing - it happens. We’ve had to regroup and carry on.

Unfortunately there was more carnage on the ninth stage and again it involved one of my teammates, Juan Antonio Fletcha. Incredibly he and Vacansoleil’s Johnny Hoogerland were driven into by a television car which resulted in Hoogerland being catapulted into a barbed wire fence causing ugly lacerations to his skin.It was horrific and totally crazy.

When we crash it’s the equivalent of throwing yourself out of a car travelling at 30mph wearing just your lycra kit.

I was thankful I managed to keep clear of the carnage and really enjoyed Monday’s rest day.

Meanwhile making sacrifices for the team is what the Tour is all about.

Despite the wind and rain of Normandy on stage six I felt good but realised that a cruel incline just before the finish meant the day was better suited to my team-mates Geraint Thomas and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

So I pedalled hard and delivered them in perfect position at the bottom of the slope. Both pushed on and Edvald struck for the line with 200 metres to go and held on to give the Sky Team our first stage victory.

The win gave us all a big confidence boost. Twenty four hours earlier I had taken part in probably the dodgiest race I’d ever been involved in. Eveyone was so compact and nervous in the peloton; we were flying along all day at about 45kph.

I don’t remember much about it, everything was just going so fast but there were five crashes and I do remember being caught up in one of them. I managed to stop but people behind me didn’t and I ended up on my back in a ditch.

We’re nearly half way through the Tour now and there’s only four days until the next rest day.