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Tour de France Stage 1: A close call

Sunday 30 June 2013, 20:09

 BBC Radio 5 live BBC Radio 5 live

Tour de France: Stage 2 analysis

By 5 live cycling summariser Graham Jones:

The Tour never fails to give us talking points, but yesterday was a first even for me; a team bus almost brought the 1st Stage of the 100th Tour de France to what would have been a very embarrassing, premature end.

In the hour before every Stage is due to finish, the convoy of team buses is brought through the finish line to eventually take their position in their allotted parking spot, ready to await the arrival of their riders.

Yesterday was no different. All were safely through following their trip from the race start in Porto Vecchio to the finish here in Bastia, on the northern tip of Corsica.

The finish line arch is kept at a safe height for the tall vehicles, and with minutes to go it had been lowered into its position ready for the big sprint. All good, or so everybody thought.

However, with just over 15km to go for the riders, and our commentators Simon Brotherton and Rob Hayles in full swing, there was a huge crunch.

A delayed Orica-GreenEdge team bus had somehow been allowed to come down the finish straight only to hit the overhead arch and get completely wedged in.

With the riders just 15 minutes away it didn’t look like it would be cleared in time. Quick decisions had to be made. The race organisers decided the race would have to finish 3km from the end. This was then passed onto the teams, who then had to tell their riders.

Our producer Olie D’Albertanson decided to go down to the bus for a closer inspection:

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The tyres on the bus were deflated to help lower the vehicle, and it was then reversed to see if the arch would be able to stand on its own.  It was very wonky, but it remained upright.

With the race just moments away from finishing, and with the bus now reversing up the road, the race organisers decided to revert to the original finish line. 

What followed then was an almighty crash that scuppered Mark Cavendish’s chance of wearing the Yellow Jersey for the first - and quite possiobly last - time in his career.

A close call but that’s what the Tour is all about: no two days are ever the same.

Orica-GreenEdge were fined 2,000 Swiss Francs by the organisation for not respecting the schedule for the buses. I wonder if the marshal or steward who allowed the bus to come through will be given the same fine?
Will the Tour Organisers review the team bus process? They might need to for safety reasons.

We had to come off air without knowing the precise times each rider got, as the electronic readers in the arch that does this had been damaged. In the end everyone was given the same time.

No doubt the arch has been repaired overnight ready for Stage 2, but one thing's for sure: the Tour will roll on.

5 live's coverage of the 100th Tour de France each day from 15.30 on 5 live sports extra. There are summaries of each day's action on 5 live's Bespoke podcast, available here.

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