When 2007 Paris-Roubaix winnner, Stuart O'Grady, crashed into a barrier during the Tour prologue on Saturday, he quickly got back on the bike and continued like nothing happened. Here's hoping that he is 100 percent, but that is only something "Stuey" knows for sure.
Crashing is a part of bike racing, but in a three week race it takes on a greater importance. In a race like the Tour, a rider needs to feel good on the bike every day. Sure, there are times when you can hide out in the pack, but at the current speeds of the peloton, those times are few and far between. And when the Tour enters the mountains, there is no place to hide.
This makes rest and recovery vitally important and if you aren't able to sleep at night you just cannot recover. Road rash means sticky sheets. Bumps and bruises means a potentially compromised sleeping position. General aches and pains can easily cause insomnia.
Then there is the fact that while the body attempts to heal itself it is robbing energy, the same energy a rider needs to pedal his bike. Former Discovery Channel and current T-Mobile rider Michael Barry crashed so heavily in the 2002 Tour of Spain that he had road rash over half of his body. Though he wanted to continue he had to aboandon the race. Michael slept 14 hours a day for the next three weeks as his body made the necessary repairs!
So, whether you are a rider like O'Grady who is counted on to support his team leaders and possibly win from a small breakaway on a flatter stage or one of the favorites, crashing at the Tour can never be viewed as a minor inconvenience. A friend of mine rode eight Tours and only one of those Tours was crash-free. Safe travels for the peloton!