12 Jul 2011

Rest day comes just in time after Tour de France carnage

6:13 am on 12 July 2011

Riders on the Tour de France have appreciated their first rest day after Sunday's crash-strewn nine stage.

Four riders were forced out of the race after a huge pile-up on a descent, while Spain's Juan-Antonio Flecha and Dutchman Johnny Hoogerland were hit by a television car, which could become a legal issue.

The Kazakh veteran Alexandre Vinokourov has undergone surgery on his fractured thigh which will mean at least three months out of action and possibly the end of his career at the age of 37.

The three-times champion Alberto Contador, who's been caught up in two pile ups, is more than four minutes down on the leader with an injured knee.

The outspoken Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara, who often acts as a spokesman for the peloton, has accused organisers of looking for the most dangerous roads for this year's tour.

But other experienced riders and team chiefs simply say cycling has always been a dangerous and brutal sport, especially in the first week of the Tour de France.