Cadel Evans survived yet another day of carnage on the Tour de France on

Sunday, but admits to being spooked after seeing a crash which left

more big names abandoning the race in agony.

The two-time

runner-up started the 208km ninth stage from Issoire to Saint Flour in

the Massif Central only one second off the pace of Norway's world

champion Thor Hushovd.

After Samuel Sanchez of Rabobank took his

first win of the season, leading home new yellow jersey man Thomas

Voeckler of France, Evans arrived with the peloton and all the big

favourites almost four minutes later.

He sits third over at 2:26

behind Voeckler with Spaniard Sanchez second at 1:49. The Schleck

brothers Frank and Andy are fourth and fifth respectively at 2:29 and

2:37 while Alberto Contador sits 16th at 4:07.

Somehow the

Australian – not known for enjoying fortune in the race – avoided being

caught in the major pile-up on the descent of the Col du Pas de Peyrol

which ended the yellow jersey hopes of Belgian Jurgen van den Broeck.


abandoning was his Omega-Pharma team-mate Fredrik Willems, American

David Zabriskie (Garmin) and veteran Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov of


Evans seemed to be simply in the right place at the right

time when a left-hand bend, raced at speed and in semi-humid

conditions, conspired with a fast-moving and nervous peloton to cause


"I came around a blind corner and they were all lying

there," said Evans, who highlighted the current state of fear in the

peloton following the death of Belgian Wouter Weylandt in May at the

Giro d'Italia.

"I saw a lot of riders in the road and honestly,

it really, really frightened me, especially after what happened to

Wouter Weylandt in the Giro."

Rivals, however, have not had it so easy.


the three-time and defending champion, hit the deck for the fourth time

in eight days when the saddle of Russia's Vladimir Karpets tapped his

handlebars, sending the Spaniard tumbling.

He was able to finish

the hilly stage in Evans' chase group but later revealed a knee pain,

first felt after one of two crashes on Wednesday, had flared up again.

"Today, I had a few problems and I'm a little bit anxious about my knee," said Contador.

"After I crashed, I began feeling the pain again but I hope, with some ice and some rest, it will get better."


Gesink, a respected climber considered an outsider for the yellow

jersey this year, is 4:01 behind after his own crash woe on Wednesday

and suffering back pain since.

He is also spooked by the mass pile-up.


I saw the crashes, I was just relieved not to be caught up," said

Gesink. "I saw guys lying everywhere. There were guys coming crawling

out of the bushes.

"I was a victim of a crash a few days ago and, unfortunately, it's part of cycling."


riding out of the Massif Central on Tuesday, the race moves into the

Pyrenees mountains for three consecutive stages which are likely to

eliminate more yellow jersey contenders.

Britain's Bradley

Wiggins of Team Sky crashed out of the race on Friday and, on Sunday,

his team-mate Juan Antonio of Flecha was one of two riders hit late in

the stage by a passing television car.

Both riders survived the

stage but the reaction of Dutchman Johnny Hoogerland, who was also sent

spectacularly somersaulting through the air, showed maturity beyond his


"Nobody can be blamed for this. It's a horrible accident

and I was in it. But I said to Flecha, 'We're still alive and Wouter

Weylandt died in a crash'," said Hoogerland.

"I think the people

in the car will have a very big guilty feeling and they will surely

apologise to me and Flecha. We can still be happy that we're alive."