Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pro-Cycling: Crashes, Crushed Dreams, & Character

This has been a tough week for the Tour de France. Too many accidents, injuries, and mishaps. Many of my favorites are out of the Tour already. I am disappointed and sad for the injuries. I am confused by the frequency of trouble. I've watched the event many years and do not remember anything like this before. This has been troubling for me.

Today, Stage 9, was possibly the worst. A media car sideswiped Juan Antonio Flecha, one of my favorites, and obviously sent him to the ground which knocked another young cyclist from the Netherlands, Johnny Hoogerland, into the air. He landed on a barbed wire fence. They both survived and finished the race. It was heartbreaking and I was angry and sick-to-my-stomach.
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I got the following information of the official Tour web site. I was impressed with Hoogerland's grace in such a painful situation. The character of this young cyclist is inspiring.

Johnny Hoogerland – “We can still be happy that we’re alive...”

Forgiveness is a wonderful trait. It’s hard to understand how, only moments after weeping on the podium after receiving the polka-dot jersey for his efforts in stage nine, Johnny Hoogerland refused to lay blame on anyone for an accident that sent him flying off the road and into a barbed wire fence… but the Dutchman has a remarkable attitude even when his future in the race is uncertain.

“We can still be happy that we’re alive. It’s horrible. I can blame everyone but I don’t think anyone does this sort of thing on purpose. I think the people in the car will have a very big guilty feeling and they will surely apologize to me and Flecha.
“Juan Antonio came to me an he apologized.
“It should not happen but it’s always possible that this sort of thing happens.
“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.
“Cycling is getting more and more hectic which is also nice because more and more people are watching but, for sure, some people will say that it may be like this because… well, I can’t explain it – but I think most people feel very, very bad about this sort of thing.
“I have three cuts that are about seven centimeters long and quite deep too. I’ll go to the hospital now and I think I’ll need about 30 stitches at least…
“I did what felt like a few somersaults. I don’t know where the car came from. Before I knew it, Flecha was on the ground and there was nothing I could do. I landed on the fence and I looked at my legs and thought, ‘Is this what cycling is about?’ “I have the polka-dot jersey but I’m going to spend the rest day in a lot of pain.” Source:

Another crushing blow came to Chris Horner yesterday. It seemed he did not even know how bad he'd hit his head and face. He broke his nose and finished the stage, asking over and over if he'd finished, clearly dazed. He is a really great cyclist, 40-years old, and has a great attitude every time they interview him. Sad to see him go. Here is a great photo after his visit to the hospital.

Zabriskie is out, too. He is one cool, very funny, talented rider. Ugh! Bradley Wiggins had a tough spill. He's gone. Sad, sad, sad. I can't even think of everyone who has crashed out.
Frederik Willems of Belgium, left, and David Zabriskie of the US, right, are being treated by Tour de France doctors after crashing during the 9th stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 208 kilometers (129 miles) starting in Issoire and finishing in Saint Flour, central France, Sunday July 10, 2011. Photo: Christophe Ena / AP

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