The spotlight is again on rider safety after a spate of crashes in the main bunch on Stage 3 at the Tour de France, with Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) among those to go down in separate incidents.
Ewan is out of the race with a broken collarbone after colliding with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in a chaotic sprint, while Thomas was sent for an ultrasound after having a dislocated shoulder popped back in mid-race.
Thomas managed to get back into the peloton after working with teammates Luke Rowe and Dylan van Baarle to erode a 2'30" gap, but Roglic lost time in the race for the yellow after his crash with 10 kilometres remaining.
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Roglic, sporting huge road rashes on his left shoulder and left hip, came home 1:21 down on stage winner Tim Merlier (Alpecin–Fenix) and, crucially, 55 seconds behind defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates).
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Bradley Wiggins joined The Breakaway to discuss the action and the difficulty striking the balance between entertainment and safety.
“We don’t like sitting here, watching these guys scrape along the floor. But it is entertainment. I don’t mean that in derogatory way,” said Wiggins.
I knew that was the risk when I was riding and I would bottle it sometimes – I was either on the front or the back. I never liked to be in that bit in between. You understand the risks of the sport.
“As I got older I drew away from it because I did not want to go home and see my children [looking like I’ve been] battered to death. And if you can’t do it someone else will. It’s why the sport is so tough and not everyone can do it. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
“That’s normal for a sprint, maybe not the rough and tumble, and it makes Mark Cavendish’s 30 stage wins look [more remarkable].”
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Highlights: Thomas, Roglic, Pogacar crash as Merlier takes Stage 3
One solution that has been floated is to take the general classification times eight kilometres from the finish on narrow sprint stages, meaning only sprinters and their teams have to worry about the finale.
“I can understand them asking for it because it segregates the peloton a little bit,” continued Wiggins.
“The race would be for eight kilometres to go and then you would see the GC guys, the GC teams and everyone interested in that GC battle just sitting up and going in the back half of the peloton.
“It would leave a smaller group in front to contest the sprint because you’ve got so many dynamics going on.
All that mingling and the washing machine effect you get in the peloton just creates more and more anxiety and nervousness.
“It’s why we see the crashes. I can understand it. It would make for a cleaner end of stage.”
A day of carnage at the Tour de France concluded with Tim Merlier (Alpecin–Fenix) taking Stage 3. Thomas is 1:07 back in the general classification on leader Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), with Roglic a further 28 seconds adrift.
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