Despite the fourth place obtained by José Joaquín Rojas in the uphill finish of Mont des Alouettes, Movistar Team did not start well in the 2011 Tour de France. The Spanish rider was the only one from the nine-man Blue roster not to be affected by the several crashes that maked the opening ride of the 98th edition in the Grande Boucle. The list of misfortune was opened by Andrey Amador and Beñat Intxausti, who went onto the ground in the first chute.
The Costa Rican was the most affected rider, with severla bruises and, overall, a visible imflammation in his right ankle that advised him to be moved to a medical center after the stage, in order to check the injury. Also Intxausti, with pain in his right elbow, was moved to the Hospital Departamental de Vendée in La Roche-sur-Yon. The next ones to fall were David Arroyo, with bruises and blows in his right hand side, and Iván Gutiérrez, apparently with no consequences. Plus, at the finale, into the biggest crash that happened 10k from the finish, Portuguese Rui Costa fell and suffered bruises in his right knee. Vasil Kiryienka also crashed, with Imanol Erviti having to stay on his feet and leave the front group not to crash.
Still there was an accident left, just under the 2k banner, which affected Fran Ventoso -with some cuts in his leg- and Iván Gutiérrez, when both were arranging a good position for Rojas. The Murcian, who was wearing his national champion jersey for the very first time today, contested the sprint with the top riders and came in 4th after the unstoppable first leader, Gilbert (OLO), Evans (BMC) and Hushovd (GRM). “I’m satisfied, specially because I didn’t crash in such a crazy stage. You couldn’t take a minute of relax all day because the danger was always at your back. All teams want to be on front to protect their leaders and the risk is too high. In the finale I felt myself well, but Omega had things clear in their minds and Van den Broeck pushed a lot in the last kilometers; when Gilbert attacked, nobody could follow him. If he’s OK, he’s unbeatable in such finishes. I was just into my real level; Hushovd had to be my reference, because I’m a similar rider, and I was about to overtake him over the line. That makes me think even more I’m in good condition, and that I can surprise the other riders someday.”