By Brecht Decaluwé in Tignes
The descent of the Cormet de Roselend once again took its toll in the Tour de France. Stuart O'Grady, Grischa Niermann and Charles Wegelius. In the breakaway group, David Arroyo and Michael Rogers also crashed in one of the tricky corners while riding in the race's front group, smashing into the road barriers. Both could continue and get back to the leaders but a few moments later Rogers dropped back and eventually abandoned the race.
The climb isn't too steep, averaging 6 to 7 percent. The 1967-metre climb starts already at an altitude of 800 metres so the height difference is bearable. Eleven years ago on July 6, 1996 Johan Bruyneel enjoyed some scary moments on the descent of the Roselend. Back then the Belgian was part of the Rabobank team and he enjoyed one of his better days in the mountains as he was still in the front group.
Behind him the end of the Indurain era was heralded, the five times Tour de France winner couldn't follow the speed of eventual winner Luc Leblanc and the other favourites and finished more than four minutes down on the winner. The Belgian spectacularly missed his corner on the wet roads and he was ejected ten metres lower into the ravine. The involved corner is easy to find; after a few easy corners there's suddenly a sharp turn to the left. A few days ago we caught up with Johan Bruyneel, who is currently team manager of the Discovery Channel team.
"It looked very spectacular but in the end it wasn't that bad as I could crawl out of there without injuries. It was scary, though. It happened during the first mountains stage and I was very happy as I was still with the leaders, about 15 men. Suddenly I missed a corner and I tumbled over some concrete and then I was dangling out there for a fraction of a second," Bruyneel explained to Cyclingnews. "For a moment I thought that I would be dead. The next moment I was hanging in a tree and I could only think about getting out of there to get back on a bike and continue my race. It's an unbelievable story but it was something I went through but it didn't leave me with any trauma's," Bruyneel looked back on these memorable moments.