Chaos overshadows French debut
29 June 2013

Tour de France (st. 1)

Rui Costa hits right wrist with no suspected consequences, suffers Movistar Team's only major incident in opening day marked by crashes and confusion. Rojas 9th at the finish, Kittel (ARG) in yellow

German Marcel Kittel (ARG) has notched up the first yellow jersey of the 2013 Tour de France after a 213km stage from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia marked by disarray and setbacks in the finale. With things calm until the ending 15k, a five-man breakaway always under control of a bunch where Movistar Team kept the front in all phases of the race, the finish was literally shaken by the bus from one of the teams getting stuck between the floor and the arc d’arrivée. The organizers initially decided to bring the finish to the 3k-to-go banner, though it would be eventually turned back to its original place, with all riders receiving the same time of the day’s winner.

Confusion picked up the pace into the bunch, which suffered a massive pile-up with just over 6k from the finish. Movistar Team saw Rui Costa affected, the Portuguese rider reaching the finish line dropped, with a hard blow in his right wrist, immediately put into ice to avoid inflammation. At the expense of the evolution of his injuries, his race doesn’t seem into compromise and should be ready to continue tomorrow. The crash, where Imanol Erviti also had a wheel broken, did not affect Valverde, Quintana, Gutiérrez and Rojas (9at the sprint), all of them into the first big group after the incident.

Stage two on Sunday will explore more mountainous roads in Corsica, with 156km to be covered between Bastia and Ajaccio with four categorized climbs, including the Col de Vizzavona (Cat-2) halfway through the day’s route and the Côte de Salario (Cat-3) just 12k from the end.

Rui Costa: “I’m happy not to have lost any time and stay into contention. Four Tours already in my career, this will be the fifth – we already know how everything works into the first days of racing. You have to pay attention all the time, even more into the final 30k. You have to keep the best position, and we did, but crashes are sometimes impossible to avoid. When I fell, I had the chain off its place, and when trying to put it back into function, my hand was hurting a lot, but now that I have put on some ice, I feel better. We’ll have to see how it gets when it’s colder, because it doesn’t really hurt when it’s hot and you always have to see how you do later, but I think I don’t have any injuries.”

José Joaquín Rojas: “It’s been pretty crazy into the final 25k: the chaos with the finish, not knowing if it was at 3k from the original one or not; the narrower roads, the need to keep pushing, paying attention, staying all team-mates together… At least, we went well through the day, and apart from Rui, we did not catch any crashes. I went for a little chance after completing my work for Alejandro, because we know first comes first and my duty this year is protecting him. Should I have chances like this one, I’ll profit, but it’s easier for it to come later. We tried to ride always at the front, from the 1st kilometer, not to mess things up like last year: we know you spend a lot more, but it’s crucial to avoid any problems. Tomorrow and Monday will be more of the same. We’ll ride this attentive and together to keep Alejandro safe.”