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SBD Global/July 1, 2013/Events and Attractions
Cavendish Blasts Tour De France Organizers After Opening Stage Finish-Line Chaos
Published July 1, 2013
DRIVER DEFENDS ACTIONS: In Sydney, Rupert Guinness reported Gary Atxa, the Orica-GreenEDGE driver the behind the wheel of the team bus that got stuck in the finishing arch of the 213km first stage of the Tour de France, "defended his actions in the incident before the race resumed for stage two on Sunday." Atxa: "I was a bit late and when I arrived at the finish I followed the instructions that were given to me. When I arrived at the finish line I saw that it was a bit low, but they said, 'Advance, advance!' I saw that the others had passed before me, so I did exactly the same thing; but it was bad luck that it [the finishing arch] was a little low and what happened happened" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 7/1).
'PANIC TOOK OVER': In London, Jeremy Whittle reported the "policing of the 4,500 vehicles on the route du Tour as it approached Bastia was confused and chaotic, with many vehicles being sent the wrong way by a panicking and overwhelmed local gendarmerie." The prospect of 198 riders speeding toward the finish line, at 50 miles an hour, "hellbent on winning the first yellow jersey, with a huge bus in their path, was unthinkable." And as the race organization fought to dislodge the Orica-GreenEDGE bus from the finish line gantry, "panic took over." A decision was made that the finish line "would be moved, to a point three kilometres earlier." The riders were told through race radio, but some of them couldn’t hear what was being said. Kittel said, "I didn’t know the bus was stuck. About six or seven kilometres from the line, our director was shouting in the radio, but the sound of the TV helicopters and the fans was so loud, I couldn’t hear what he was saying" (LONDON TIMES, 6/29).