Imagine this: you train your entire life to ride the most grueling race available in cycling, and then a trap consisting of small flat rocks derails your run.
This is the reality of Stage 9 of the 2018 Tour de France, which featured 15 sections of cobblestones. The road feature is a polarizing part of the Tour, with some fans happy for the excitement they bring, and others questioning the organization’s seeming ploy to create chaos.
I'll be that guy. Cobblestones have no business being in the Tour de France. It's a cheap way to create drama.
— Lars Pollmann (@LarsPollmann) July 15, 2018
While the carnage wasn’t too heavy this year, a couple riders took spills. One of those was British four-time winner and 2018 Tour favorite Chris Froome.
Froome’s crash was relatively harmless; he appears to just have veered off-road slightly, leading to the crash.
Colombian Egan Bernal’s, however, looked more painful. The mere sight of the stones appears to have derailed him, and he spun out:
— Le Tour de France (@LeTour) July 15, 2018
American Tejay van Garderen also had a rough day, dropping from third place to thirtieth overall. His look in the aftermath tells you everything you need to know:
Tejay van Garderen, from third place to 30th today, with a crash and three flat tires on the cobblestones at the Tour de France. pic.twitter.com/Ta0byon45D
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) July 15, 2018
German John Degenkolb made it through the trials unscathed, winning the stage in 3 hours, 34 minutes, and 26 seconds.
“It was a really hard day. We had a plan to stay out of trouble, and that worked out really well. I have been through a lot of things in the past, and had such a hard time,” said Degenkolb. “I’d like to dedicate this victory to one of my best friends, who passed away last winter. This was for him. Everyone said I was finished after what happened [the training accident in 2016]. I’m so thrilled to get a big race victory.”
Belgian Team BMC rider Greg van Avermaet also made it through the day intact, and remains in the yellow jersey.