”THE MOST NERVE-WRACKING RACE EVER ”
Those were the words of a VETERAN rider. Not a ROOKIE.
But our Belgian rider Tom Van Asbroeck meant every word he said. He just finished the 156 km stage, and could not believe the amount of pressure and nervousness he had seen from the 173 riders in the Peloton. ”It seemed like everyone was afraid to be dropped, crash, lose position… It was crazy”.
The slippery roads – this was the first rain in weeks – turned the whole scene into a series of never-ending crashes. Our Ben Hermans (Poor Ben, hasn’t he had enough crashes for a lifetime?) was involved in the first one on the Nice Riviera boulevard. He got up and despite suffering from great pain, he finished. (X-rays showed no fracture, thankfully).
And that was not the last or the worst crash. That was saved for 3 km from the finish, when we were working on the lead out for sprinter Andre Greipel. ”We were in a good position when it happened,” said Greipel later. The crash took Andre and Nils Politt down, and our hopes for a great score went down the tubes.
Our Israeli Guy Niv had a rollercoaster of a day. There was a hard welcome to this TDF, and the shock nerves of the day hit him hard, of course: ”I suffered quite a lot. I was rusty, and that was expected because, in the last week, I trained very lightly. But although I battled, I feel I’m lucky that I stayed on my bike and did not hit the asphalt. People were falling all around. It was a mess.”
He is confident that he will get used to the pace of the TDF and will take with him the fantastic moments and magic from the start: ”I was shivering from excitement. There were moments that I will take with me forever: the crowds, the atmosphere, and the Israeli flags all over the place. What a day!”