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Tour de France 2013: Marcel Kittel wins chaotic opening stage
Because of what Pescheux called “the little bout of panic and crashes” caused by this confusion, organizers subsequently decided to give everyone the same time as Kittel — 4 hours, 56 minutes, 52 seconds over the 132-mile trek from the port town of Porto Vecchio to Bastia in the north of the island.
That means no one was penalized by Saturday’s events.
“It’s clear there was a moment of panic, and that’s why we put everybody on equal footing,” said Pescheux.
“The lesson learned is that buses, that heavy vehicles, they should avoid going through the finish line,” he added.
“Everybody helped out, we deflated the tires of the bus so we could move it away as the peloton was fast approaching,” said Jean-Louis Pages, who manages the finish-line area.
Organizers fined the Orica Greenedge team the equivalent of $2,100. The team’s sporting director, Matt White, called the incident “really unfortunate.”
“We took for granted that there was enough clearance. We’ve had this bus since we started the team, and it’s the same bus we took to the Tour last year,” he said. “Our bus driver was told to move forward and became lodged under the finish gantry.”
Managers at other teams couldn’t agree who to blame or be angry with most.
Marc Madiot of French team FDJ.FR was forgiving of the bus driver but furious with race organizers for changing their mind about where to finish the stage.
But the sporting director for Contador’s Saxo-Tinkoff team, Philippe Mauduit, sided with the organizers.
“It’s not the Tour’s fault if there’s a guy who doesn’t know the height of his bus,” he said.
“What caused the problems was changing the finish,” said Mark Cavendish, the British sprinter who was counting on his great speed to win the stage but who instead was slowed by the crash. “It’s just carnage.”
His Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate Tony Martin suffered concussion in the crash. Peter Sagan of Cannondale, another rider who was expecting to challenge for the win, finished with sticking plasters covering cuts on both legs and his left elbow. Other riders also suffered cuts and bruises. Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas flipped over his handlebars and “really whacked the back of his pelvis,” said Dave Brailsford, the Team Sky manager.
“The goal for us is to get off this island in one piece, having lost no time,” he said. “It’s a much tougher ask than it may seem.”
“You don’t know what’s going to happen. But you know something is going to happen,” he added.
By Donald Lambro
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