Tune in at 8:00 AM ET for coverage of Stage Seven of the Tour de France. Rob Sturney will be liveblogging for your enjoyment.
I'm Rob Sturney here with The Score's continuing coverage of the 99th Tour de France. Today we've got a summit finish on the Category 1 La Planche Des Belles Filles. Hopefully, we won't have the bloodletting of yesterday.
They're calling it the Metz Massacre, and I'll get into more details later, but I can say that yesterday four men were carted off in ambulances. from the crash at the 25 kilometre to go point. Eight men didn't start today because of their injuries - including Ryder Hesjedal. One has withdrawn today because of his injuries.
Yesterday's crash really tilted the race on its head. First of all, Wout Poels went to the hospital with three broken ribs, a torn kidney and spleen and bruised lungs. Tom Danielson, already nursing a separated shoulder, did not finish due to multiple injuries. Lampre's Davide Vigano, who caused the crash, broke his collarbone. Mikel Astarloza also abandoned at the wreck point.
Today we've seen the following not start: Ryder Hesjedal - massive hematoma on left leg and hip, Oscar Freire - punctured lung, Maarten Wijnants - undergoing a thorax drain, Amets Txurruka - broken collarbone, Herbert Dupont - fracture of right distal radius & first lumbar vertebra. Robbie Hunter, Imanol Erviti and José Ivan Gutierrez also did not start through injury.
And not far into the race, the Saur-Sojasun man who had been in two breakaways, Anthony Delaplace, abandoned from a broken wrist suffered yesterday.
Now, that's the butcher's bill from a single crash. The time losses to those who survived it are also quite incredible.
120 km to go: Before the time losses roll, let me tell you who is in the breakaway: Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r), LL Sanchez (Rabobank), Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo), Dmitriy Fofonov (Astana), Martin Velits (Omega Phara-QuickStep), Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge)
Yes, Legine, it was quite shocking and rather similar to last year's carnage, though there were two or three crashes that did a lot of damage to riders and their GC chances. This one crash . . . well, it looked like a bomb had gone off. Dreadful scenes.
118 km to go: Riblon is best positioned in the breakaway. LL Sanchez has been riding in the medical room at the back of the peloton with Tony Martin for most of the race so far. Chris Anker Sorensen is Saxo's dedicated King of the Mountains man, though their Michael Morkov still wears it of course. Whoever wins this stage should be the new KOM.
117 km to go: It should be said that the whole race is already climbing, though at about 2-3% until the base of the Cat. 3 Col de Grosse Pierre, which is 3.1 km at 6.4%. It peaks at the 87 km to go point.
As to the time losses due to yesterday's mayhem, here are the men who lost 2:09: Janez Brajkovic, Frank Schleck, Pierre Rolland, Jelle Vanendert, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Alejandro Valverde, Jean-Christoph Peraud. At +3:31 was Robert Gesink and his young teammate Steven Kruijswijk.
The sad, tattered group that limped in at +13:34 included Robert Kiserlovski, Alexander Vinokourov, Christian Vande Velde, Dan Martin and Richie Porte.
Of course, when one door closes, another one opens. Fellows like Vanendert, Martin, Johnny Hoogerland (who also lost big chunks of time), Rolland - these cats can now hunt the KOM and stage victories without being pulled back by the Big Dogs of the GC.
They're going to have to attack Wiggins straight away today, for there's still about 95 km of time trialing to go. It'll be up to Evans, Sanchez, Nibali to attack. I think Nibali might save his attack for steep climbs with equally steep declines into the finishing town.
102 km to go: The seven riders of the breakaway are grabbing their musettes at the feed zone in Laveline-Devant-Bruyeres. Yum.
Let's remind ourselves of the jersey wearers:
Yellow: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland/RadioShack)
Green: Peter Sagan (Slovakia/Liquigas)
Polka Dot: Michael Morkov (Denmark/Saxo-Tinkoff)
White: Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC)
Here's the top 10 on GC:
Van Garderen +0:10
Sagan moved into the top 10 yesterday because there was a little gap back from the sprinters to the rest of the men in the lead pack. Kloden and Monfort moved up yesterday when Hesjedal dropped 100 places. And, as I've mentioned, the Canadian Giro champion is no longer in the race.
The RadioShack management was saying that he's their top dog now that Frank took that loss. I think they've got a pretty good chance of packing the top 20 with three or four riders.
99 km to go: The gap has trickled down as we break the 100 km to go mark. The top of the Cat. 3 Col de Grosse Pierre is about 12 kilometres away. Two and one KOM points are available there.
99 km to go: Later, atop La Planche Des Belles Filles, the Cat. 1 points will be doubled, so it'll be 20, 16, 12, 8, 4 and 2 up for grabs. Morkov has nine points currently in the KOM competition.
Before the first mountain points comes the first sprint in Gerardmer.
Yes, Zubey was 10th at the Dauphiné and came 16th last year in the Tour.
97 km to go: I reckon Hesjedal is going to concentrate on recovering in time for the Olympics. Mr. Weight of the Nation is Canada's sole male road race contestant.
Unfortunately, I don't have the Tour on the telly at the moment. There's British Grand Prix qualifying on the channel that usually starts broadcasting at five in the morning. It's raining on the race cars, and I'm not sure when they'll cut away to Paul and Phil.
95 km to go: The septet reaches the intermediate sprint. Someone is going to get the 1500 Euro purse.
And, YES, it's a Europcar man. They've been soaking up those cash prizes for the last seven days. So Cyril Gautier puts 1500 Euros into the gel kitty.
So now the break will be about five kilometres from the start of the first Cat. 3 of the day.
The Plank of the Pretty Ladies? Well, I used to pile lumber with a very comely lass who was also tough as a coffin nail, so I can dig it.
But I imagine that would be a "walk the plank" situation, hmm?
Sagan whips around Goss to be first from the peloton over the intermediate sprint line. His lead increases.
Sagan had 209 points in the green jersey competition at the start of the day, Goss 178, Greipel 167, Cavendish 129.
Boy, now you've got me trying to picture who she married! Tough gal.
Come on, TSN2! You're supposed to switch over to the Tour now. It's just guys talking about rain . . .
92 km to go: It's a warm, sunny day today. It's a kind of day one must keep vigilant about hydration.
87 km to go: Escapee Velits picks up a bottle from his team car as the break makes its way up the climb.
Sorensen takes the climb! He spurted ahead of LL Sanchez. So Sorensen now has thrown his helmet in the KoM ring.