Tour de France Stage 9: Luis Leon Sanchez wins, Voeckler in yellow, on day of huge drama

Vinokourov, Van Den Broucke and Zabriskie all out after huge crash, Flecha hit by TV car

by Simon_MacMichael   July 10, 2011  

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Thomas Voeckler is the new leader of the Tour de France after a day of huge drama in the . Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabobank won in St Flour, with fellow escapee Sandy Casar of FDJ third and the fourth placed Philippe Gilbert leading the main group home four minutes behind. On a brutal day, a number of riders suffered broken bones, including Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov, who crashed into a ravine and out of his final Tour de France, Omega Pharma-Lotto's Jurgen Van Den Broeck, and Garmin-Cervelo's David Zabriskie.

That wasn't the end of the drama. Team Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha, involved in a five man break, was sent flying by a France TV car but remounted, as did Johnny Hoogerland, catapulted into a barbed wire fence in the same incident, and unusually, both were given the day's combativity prize.

The crash that took out both Vinokourov and Van Den Broeck happened around 100 kilometres from the end of today's 208 kilometre stage from Issoire to St Flour on the descent of the Puy Mary, with riders’ speeds were reported to be reaching between 70 and 80 kilometres an hour.

Initial reports suggested that Vinokourov had been thrown over the barrier after clipping a straw bale put on the corner to help ensure the safety of riders on a corner, with patches of wet on the road surface, drying out after earlier rain, adding to the danger.

With memories still fresh of Wouter Weylandt’s death at the Giro d’Italia in May, there was obvious concern as helicopter pictures showed a number of Astana riders down in the trees at the side of the road.

When he emerged, supported by his team mates and staff, Vinokourov was conscious but unable to stand, and it was later confirmed that he had broken both his pelvis and his femur.

The 37-year-old Vinokourov was confirmed as having broken his femur and pelvis, and it could well be that the Kazakh, who has said he is moving into management with Astana next season, has ridden his last race.

Unlike Astana, the riders from Omega Pharma-Lotto, a team reportedly split byinternal divisions, did not appear to wait around to find out the fate of their two riders involved in the crash.

It was quickly clear from his body language that Van Den Broeck, fifth overall last year, had suffered a fracture, while Frederik Willems appeared to have suffered a similar injury and also abandoned.

The uncertainty in the peloton following that crash allowed a six-man breakaway group that had looked like being slowly reeled in to extend its lead over the peloton.

That group included four past stage winners – Team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha, Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler, Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabobank and FDJ’s Sandy Casar.

The highest placed of those on GC was Voeckler, author of a number of attacks in the closing kilometres of stages during the past week, all of them doomed to failure.

Just 1 minute 29 seconds down on Thor Hushovd at the start of today’s stage, as the breakaway built its lead he found himself virtual maillot jaune on the road.

The last time he rode his way into yellow was during the 2004 Tour, and the popular Frenchman may have taken it as a good omen today that his compatriot Casar had also been in the break that allowed him to take the overall lead seven years ago.

Also present were serial escapee Jonny Hoogerland, looking to get back into the mountains jersey he had lost yesterday to HTC-Highroad’s Tejay Van Garderen, and Quick Step’s Niki Terpstra.

At the head of the main group, a heated discussion was taking place between Fabian Cancellara and his Leopard Trek colleagues on one hand, and green jersey Philippe Gilbert and race leader Thor Hushovd on the other.

In Stage 2 of last year’s race, Cancellara, then in the yellow jersey, had led the peloton in neutralising the race after a number of riders fell on a slippery descent of the Col du Stockeu.

Among those who had crashed and benefited from that go-slow were his own team mates at Saxo Bank and now at Leopard Trek, the Schleck brothers, although Frank would be out of the race for good after breaking his collarbone in another chute on the Paris-Roubaix cobbles the following day.

What wasn’t immediately clear today was whether it was Hushovd and Gilbert or Leopard Trek that were trying to calm things down today, or whether the Luxembourg-based team was trying to take advantage of the chaos by cranking up the speed. No doubt we’ll find out in the post-stage press conference.

Terpstra had been dropped by the time the five remaining escapees were engulfed in what, even by the standards of this stage, was one of the day’s most shocking episodes, 35 kilometres from the finish.

On a narrow but straight stretch of road, a France TV car veered into Flecha’s path as it apparently sought to avoid a tree by the roadside, where braking seemed the safer – indeed, the only – option.

The Team Sky rider was thrown off his bike, which was then hit by Hoogerland. The Dutch rider was catapulted into a barbed wire fence, suffering bad cuts. Sanchez narrowly avoided also being caught up in the incident.

In its immediate aftermath he, Voeckler and Casar seemed unsure what to do, but as it swiftly became apparent that Flecha and Hoogerland were going to struggle to make it back, the trio rode off up the road, working well together to maintain their lead and contest the stage win.

Behind them, Gilbert rode out ahead of the peloton unopposed to pick up a further 11 points at the day’s intermediate sprint, 30 kilometres from the end, and was also the first of the chasing bunch to cross the finish line in Saint Flour.

With Van Den Broeck out of the race, Omega Pharma-Lotto are now certain to focus on the green jersey as their target for the race, and already it seems as though the world number one is beginning to build an unassailable lead.

Earlier in the stage, defending champion Alberto Contador once again found himself on the deck, with some suggesting on Twitter that video footage showed he had been given a shove by Katusha’s Vladimir Karpets, although to us the evidence apears inconclusive.

Other riders abandoning the race today included Euskaltel’s Amets Txurruka who suffered a broken collarbone in a crash early on, as well as Pavel Brutt of Katusha and Wouter Poels of Vacansoleil.

Last time Voeckler got yellow during the 2004 Tour, he managed to stay in the jersey for ten days. With the Pyrenees and Alps still to come, that's unlikely to happen this year, although the way the first week of the 98th edition of the Tour de France has gone, anything seems possible. 

Tour de France Stage 9 Result 
1   SANCHEZ Luis-Leon      RABOBANK               5h 27' 09"
2   VOECKLER Thomas        EUROPCAR                + 00' 05"
3   CASAR Sandy            FDJ                     + 00' 13"
4   GILBERT Philippe       OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO    + 03' 59"
5   VELITS Peter           HTC - HIGHROAD
6   EVANS Cadel            BMC RACING
7   SCHLECK Andy           LEOPARD-TREK
8   MARTIN Tony            HTC - HIGHROAD
9   SCHLECK Frank          LEOPARD-TREK
10  CUNEGO Damiano         LAMPRE - ISD
11  TAARAMAE Rein          COFIDIS
15  PERAUD Jean-Christophe AG2R LA MONDIALE
16  DE WEERT Kevin         QUICK STEP
17  ROCHE Nicolas          AG2R LA MONDIALE        + 04' 07"
19  RUIJGH Rob             VACANSOLEIL-DCM
20  JEANNESSON Arnold      FDJ

Tour de France Overall Standings after Stage 9 1 VOECKLER Thomas EUROPCAR 38h 35' 11" 2 SANCHEZ Luis-Leon RABOBANK + 01' 49" 3 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING + 02' 26" 4 SCHLECK Frank LEOPARD-TREK + 02' 29" 5 SCHLECK Andy LEOPARD-TREK + 02' 37" 6 MARTIN Tony HTC - HIGHROAD + 02' 38" 7 VELITS Peter HTC - HIGHROAD + 02' 38" 8 KLÖDEN Andréas RADIOSHACK + 02' 43" 9 GILBERT Philippe OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 02' 55" 10 FUGLSANG Jakob LEOPARD-TREK + 03' 08" 11 BASSO Ivan LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 03' 36" 12 CUNEGO Damiano LAMPRE - ISD + 03' 37" 13 ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 03' 45" 14 DE WEERT Kevin QUICK STEP + 03' 47" 15 GESINK Robert RABOBANK + 04' 01" 16 CONTADOR Alberto SAXO BANK SUNGARD + 04' 07" 17 DANIELSON Tom GARMIN - CERVELO + 04' 22" 18 TAARAMAE Rein COFIDIS + 04' 52" 19 VANDE VELDE Christian GARMIN - CERVELO + 04' 53" 20 SANCHEZ Samuel EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI + 05' 01"



7 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

The crash with the TV car is on the TdF site's highlights video already. Horrendous. Astonishing they were both able to continue.

And to me it looks like Contador was shoved. He comes flying sideways like he's been catapulted out of the peloton.

Noli porcum linguere

captain_slog's picture

posted by captain_slog [307 posts]
10th July 2011 - 18:06

1 Like

The thing I don't get about the murderous assault by the TV car is that my screen shot shows the diver missing the tree by more than a yard - the yard that would have avoided clipping the rider. Truly bizarre - looks like a hit job out of the Sopranos.


P1120500 crash crop.jpg

cheers m'dears

2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Road
2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez Broken
1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/shopper
1980 Orbea project

daviddb's picture

posted by daviddb [131 posts]
10th July 2011 - 19:24


loved the drive by Voeckler, he's all heart, a well deserved yellow jersey.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1103 posts]
10th July 2011 - 20:14


"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [523 posts]
10th July 2011 - 20:24


Gerard Vroomen has posted this pic of Hoogerland on twitter:

Just seen Hoogerland interviewed on Eurosport and he was remarkably even handed about the incident. Incredible really, I know my reaction wouldn't have been so fair.

zombie paul's picture

posted by zombie paul [57 posts]
10th July 2011 - 21:34


think I'll go back to motorbikes - at least you can get away from idiots in cars


posted by alg [157 posts]
11th July 2011 - 12:48

1 Like

captain_slog, I agree it looks (from the sketchy footage, at least) like Karpets bumped Contador off the road, but it's impossible for me to tell if it was done unprovoked, or whether it was a benign reaction to Contador drifting/swerving into Karpets first. There were plenty of witnesses there, including another Saxo rider who was right behind the incident and appeared to be looking directly at Contador as he went off the edge of the road. I think if indeed there was any unprovoked aggression from Karpets, we'd be hearing more about it by now.

Having said that, the general feel I'm getting is that practically the entire peloton is giving Contador no quarter this year. (Paybacks are a bitch, eh?) Even as far back as he is off the GC lead, he's still a threat. No team with any sort of GC hopes is going to stand down and allow Alberto an easy passage to the front of the peloton. Saxo needs to work harder and do a better job keeping him towards the front if they want him to stay clear of the carnage.

posted by TheBigMong [218 posts]
11th July 2011 - 15:38