THERE will be a new man in the ‘maillot jaune’ when the Tour de France resumes tomorrow after a rest day today, but yet again all the talk is about crashes in the peloton.
Another weekend of carnage on the roads of central France sees home favourite Thomas Voeckler lead the race after he came home behind Spain’s Luis-Leon Sanchez in yesterday’s 208km ninth stage from Issoire to Saint-Flour.
However, two major crashes saw more contenders for the leading positions have to drop out through injury.
Jurgen van den Broeck, Frederik Willems, David Zabriskie and Alexandre Vinokourov were taken to hospital after falling on a descent.
And worse was to come as Team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha and Vacansoleil’s Johnny Hoogerland - two of five breakaway riders in the stage - were driven into by a television car.
Flecha’s team-mate, Ben Swift, told The Star of his horror at the crash. The Dinnington-born 23-year-old in his first Tour said: “It’s absolutely incredible (that it could happen). We caught up with Flecha and his elbow must have been three times its normal size. Hoogerland looked in a mess too.
“When we crash it’s the equivalent of throwing yourself out of a car moving at 30 miles per hour wearing just your lycra kit.
“I’ve been saying all week about how crazy the race has been. It was actually a lot less nervous in the peloton but still more people have had to pull out.”
Swift was disappointed that Flecha’s fall meant he missed the chance to win the stage.
“I think he would have won without a doubt. He’s a strong guy,” he said.
Today is the first rest day of the race before the 158km ride from Aurillac to Carmaux tomorrow. Swift admitted he was looking forward to the break: “We’ll have a three-hour ride to keep our legs going. But I’m feeling a bit sore, so I won’t be moving too far from my bed,” he said.