With 25km to go, Alessandro Petacchi took off his shoe covers and passed them to team mate Davide Vigano. Vigano was riding one-handed as he tried to put the shoe covers in his back pocket whilst riding downhill at around 70km/h when, unable to brake, he rode into the backwheel of the rider in front of him, prompting a wave of crashes at high speed.
That’s what L’Equipe says today. I’d add some more context. First, it seems to have come from Danilo Hondo of the same team, although this isn’t mentioned by the newspaper.
Petacchi presumably had the covers to keep his feet dry during the day but didn’t want the extra weight on his feet for the finish, a normal trick for the sprint.
We’d seen the breakaway up the road put on a tight leash, the bunch had closed in almost too quickly. But with the rolling roads and the wind, the bunch seemed nervous already. The wind had got up too, making the bunch nervous, adding even more pressure on the riders to be at the front.