It was a day of carnage on the Tour de France. The most horrific crash I have ever witnessed absolutely smashed the peloton apart. And for the first time to my knowledge the officials actually stopped the race.
There were so many injured riders that all the ambulances and medical cars had to stop and there was no medical staff to attend to the race.
It was just plain mayhem when Race Director Christian Prudomme firstly made the decision to put the race under control, standing through the sun roof with arms outstretched like an albatross. Then the ASO and UCI officials jointly made the decision to stop the Tour de France until the situation was rectified.
Orica-GreenEDGE were devastated by the fall with five riders hitting the bitumen and Simon Gerrans having to withdraw with a broken wrist. Darryl Impey rode on doggedly to the finish with what turned out to be a fractured collarbone, having to withdraw also. He wanted to start stage four but the team said no. With all the cobbled sections it would have been ridiculous.
Check out our coverage of Stage 3 and watch behind the scenes interviews with the OGE riders who got caught up in the crash
Michael Matthews limped to the finish in last place and was taken to hospital for scans but luckily it revealed severely bruised ribs and nothing broken. Michael Albasini was Orica-GreenEDGE’s big chance for the stage win as he has ridden so well up there in the past, and finished second this year at the Mur de Huy in the Fleche Wallonne. But he too bit the dust and has a fair bit of bark off and some serious bruising.
Simon Yates climbed strongly to finish eighth up the Mur and showed real guts and determination as he also fell losing a bit of skin.
Actually Albasisi, Gerrans and Matthews were all capable of giving the stage win a real shake and all were taken out of the game. But as they say in the classics – that’s bike racing.
It has been a roller coaster ride. Only three days in and the tour has been hit by heat waves, tropical downpours, severe winds and now a monstrous crash.
The next instalment stage five and the dreaded cobbles may seem tantalising to the fans but the riders are very anxious, even those who hope to gain an advantage. I will be surprised if one of the big four doesn’t drop out of contention over the Pave.
Chris Froome rode superbly to take the lead by just one second from Tony Martin, who must be kicking himself after missing out on stage three by a single second. The man in yellow Fabian Cancellara also had to withdraw after scans revealed fractures in his back.