The doctors were under siege again today as the bad weather led to a spate of crashes and injuries.
While Stuart O’Grady seemed overwhelmed by the poignancy of his stage win in Chartres tonight, another Australian, Bradley McGee, fought back the tears after finishing stage 5 aboard the broom wagon. McGee was forced to admit defeat in his bid to ride through the pain of a long-term back problem 110km into today’s weather-beaten 200km stage. “I don’t know what to say,” a dishevelled McGee told journalists at the finish line in Chartres. “Did the wind and rain play a role? No. I just couldn’t keep up. I just haven’t got it. I have never been in this position before and neither did I think I ever would be. Now all I can do is rest and get some advice from experts to work out where I am. “When you’re asked how you feel on the finish line after winning a race, you often say ‘It hasn’t sunk in yet’. That’s exactly how I feel now. I told myself that I’d get through it through sheer determination. That’s the most frustrating thing: I didn’t have a chance to.” McGee first complained about his back problems resurfacing after he lost six minutes on stage one of Tour on Sunday. The 28-year-old Aussie blamed the flare-up on his neglecting to wear special slippers to a counteract discrepancy between the lengths of his legs as he prepared for the Tour, at home in Nice, last week. Another man in the wars tonight was Alessandro Petacchi. A faller after 104km on roads made treacherous by the rain, Petacchi said at the finish line that he had felt his shoulder pop out of his joint as he crashed. Despite suggesting that the pain was “bearable” after he recovered to ride in with the main pack, Petacchi was still taken to hospital in Chartres for x-rays this evening. The results of the x-rays will determine whether Petacchi begins stage 6 in Bonneval tomorrow.