Bloody day on Le Tour as riders flip over handlebars
ADAM Yates has crashed for the second time in two days and two of his key helpers also hit the bitumen as Australia's Mitchelton-Scott bore the brunt of another chaotic day at the Tour de France.
With riders spooked by the Stage 1 carnage all fighting to be at the front for the 182.5km Stage 2 mission to La Roche-sur-Yon, the run home produced more crashes.
Three-time world champion Peter Sagan won the stage, proving too strong for Sonny Colbrelli and Arnaud Demare on another uphill rise to the line to snatch the yellow jersey.
But the drama again unfolded back down the road. Title contender Yates flipped over the handlebars with 30km remaining and took skin off his elbow before Luke Durbridge came down hard and was left with blood pouring down both legs.
Their teammate Daryl Impey was also taken out in a big crash with 1.7km to go that held up several riders, including Michael Matthews and Fernando Gaviria, who was forced to surrender leadership of the race.
There were no time gaps among the main contenders, with Richie Porte and Chris Froome finishing safely in the bunch. But another incident-packed day has provided several teams caught out in Stage 1 with even more incentive to take back time in Monday's 35.5km team time trial.
Mitchelton Scott workhorse Jack Bauer was first on the scene after Yates' crash, helping him get settled on a replacement bike.
"There was real issue (with the bike), just buckled wheels, brakes off-centre, handlebars twisted and the seat turned around backwards. We thought it was best to change to the spare bike," Bauer joked.
"But he's a tough bastard. He's a GC rider. These fellas are hard, they're used to knocks and tumbles and keeping on going and not letting it get them down. That's what makes a real champ in a bike race. You can't expect to have three weeks of plain sailing. It does happen, but it's very, very rare.
"That is the nature of bike racing - you crash and gaps open up. We'll do what we can tomorrow to try and close that gap."
Team time trials are a Mitchelton-Scott strength, but the sight of arguably their strongest rider against the clock, Durbridge, limping home with blood running down both legs wasn't exactly morale boosting.
"I'm not so great. Those finishes are pretty sketchy and you're just trying to move up to do your job and someone decided to turn left and that was my front wheel," Durbridge said.
"I know what it is when you break a bone so I should be fine just skin. I'm lucky the whole peloton didn't run me over."
Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White dismissed any concern over Yates and the team's run of misfortune.
"It's the first nine days and you win some and lose some and things could definitely be a lot worse," White said.
"Adam's a pretty tough cookie and a little bit of skin off isn't going to effect him.
"I think people are trying to dramatise the situation. People crash. A couple of bandaids and some Savlon and he'll be fine."
Monday's time trial looms as a pivotal test, with the team's caught out in Stage 1 - Yates' Mitchelton Scott, Porte's BMC and Froome's Team Sky - also the strongest teams in the discipline.