Maybe sprinter Andre Greipel didn’t need his big Columbia train, he just needed a small train. And an Act of God to wipe out the rest of the field.
A massive crash inside 3k on a slick roundabout took down the entire front end of the peloton. It was like a kid set up a giant slip ‘n’ slide, with riders going down everywhere. The carnage left just six riders free up front, including three Columbia riders. The mini-train delivered. Bert Grabsch led out Greipel for the win over Wouter Weylands (Quickstep).
The wet, cold Dutch version of the usually sunny Spanish tour took riders over some of the same roads in the Amstel Gold and Liege Bastogne Liege races. Same weather, same crashes, 225 kilometers from Venlo to Liege — hard to get used to seeing rain capes in the Vuelta. Somehow the race loses its indentity with the geographic hop-scotch, the helta-skelta-Vuelta.
Fabian Cancellera survived the crash to retain his gold jersey as race leader. Wednesday’s rest day will allow everyone to recover from the crashes and dry off. American Chris Horner (Astana) continued his astonishing run of bad luck with his fourth major crash of the season. No question that he’s already met the deductible on his health insurance.
Horner has now crashed out of the Tour of California, the Giro and most likely the Vuelta. Twisted Spoke hopes the Astana health plan is first rate and doesn’t require surgury in some strange Kazak hospital in the Ural mountains. It remains to be seen if he’ll start Thursday when the Vuelta actually goes into Spain. (Ed. Note: Horner has in fact abandoned with a wrist injury.)
But if you asked Andre Greipel how his day was, he’d smile and say beautiful.