Saint Quentin to Saint Quentin, 160km

Today’s race started very calm given the circumstances of yesterday. Just to recap, Ag2r La Mondiale rider Stijn Vandenburg was involved in a crash that left him unconscious and heroic measures had to be taken in order to keep him breathing. In the hospital it was found that Stin suffered a severe head injury. He is reported to be in stable condition and is out of immediate danger.

One good thing about yesterday was that the medical team performed very well. The Eurosport commentators Jacky Durand and Guillaume Digrazia actually timed how long it took me to get to Stijn. It was 13 seconds. I thought it took longer. Given the fact his airway was obstructed, those seconds count for a lot. Anyway, we handled the situation well and it seems that everything is going to turn out for the better. If you want to see some video on the following link on Eurosport .

Hans De Clerque from Top Sport Vlanderren made the comment that he is glad that we have doctors who are experienced in trauma and emergencies. He noted that it is not always the case.

The race rolled through the hills of northern France, where there are a lot of colza fields (yellow flowers). The peloton let a break go and they rode pretty easy for the about half of the race. Then teams like Lotto, FDJ, Marseille, and others started controlling the pace. There was a lot of curbing and they let the break suffer until the last 10 kilometers. Then FDJ took over the pace for it sprinter and former winner of the 4 Days of Dunkerque, Arnaud Demare. I thought Henrique Haussler might do something, but he is just coming back from a knee injury. Finally it was Arnaud Demare who took the uphill sprint.

On an interesting note, I ran into the Eurosport commentator Jacky Durand and Guillaume Digrazia. These guys are the Phil Liget’s ofFrance. They know just about everything about the history of the sport. What is evident is that they do not really pay attention to American race media and the US commentators do not pay attention to them. I have asked Bob Roll if he knew of these commentators and he had not. The point is that each country has their preferred commentators and they have a strong knowledge of the rich history of European cycling. On the subject of cycling injuries, Jacky Durand says that in his day, these horrific injuries did not occur often, if ever. He believes the difference between todays peloton and the older generation is that everybody is more or less at the same level. The riders had a different level of respect for each other. He also says that riders don’t have the reflex of using their hands to protect themselves in falls nowadays. And the fact that we wear helmets, we have a false security and therefore do not use or body and hands to break the fall; these are his opinions and there are several arguments for and against.

And it is easy to look up Jacky Durand’s career and see that he was a beast in the peloton. He won stages in the Tour de France, Tour of Flanders and French national champion. He was known for his long breakaways.