Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tour Becomes Crash Course

We sat down after dinner last night to watch our recording of the ninth stage of the Tour de France. It seems like we cross our fingers and hope for the best with even more frequency this year. The race has been plagued by multiple crashes, with serious injury to many top riders. The ninth stage was certainly no exception to the trend.

Alberto Contador managed to take a spill yet again in this stage. Although he didn't sustain any serious injury, the impact was to the very same knee he hit previously.

Another massive pileup sent some riders flying off the side of the road, down the hill and into the woods below. Alexandre Venokourov was among them. We watched anxiously as his teammates rushed to his side. His right leg hung helplessly at an awkward angle as he was carried out of the woods and up the hill to the street above. Initial speculation was that he might have fractured his pelvis. Team Astana reports that he is doing well after being transported to Paris via helicopter and undergoing surgery Sunday night to repair a broken femoral head. We are wishing him a speedy recovery.

Three other riders were forced out of the race in that same crash.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck left with a fractured shoulder, Frederik Willems with a fractured clavicle and David Zabriskie with a broken wrist.

As if that wasn't shocking enough, another unnecessary nightmare ensued. A television car riding along side Juan Antonio Fletcha and Johnny Hoogerland swerved to miss hitting a tree. Clearly the driver was not paying attention to the cyclists as he struck Fletcha, sending him crashing to the pavement and taking out Hoogerland as he tumbled town the tarmac. Hoogerland was vaulted, backside first, into a barbed wire fence.

After being bandaged by doctors and getting a new pair of cycling shorts, his others having been torn from his hindquarters, Hoogerland managed to complete the race. Not only did he cross the finish line, blood streaming down his legs, Hoogerland took the podium, in tears, to claim the polka dotted jersey. This King of the Mountains, and his 33 stitches, resumes the race in stage 10 after a well deserved rest day.

After a day of minding the road rash to his arm and leg and toughing out a bit of whiplash, Fletcha was also able to get back in the saddle for stage 10.

Hopefully tour organizers will take note of the tragedy and implement improved safety measures.

No comments:

Post a Comment