AG2R La Mondiale's leader at this year's Giro d'Italia, Alexis Vuillermoz, was left thanking his team and the race organisation after an asthma attack caused him to crash into a ravine while climbing the Mortirolo during stage 16 on Tuesday.
"Huge thanks to all the staff and friends of AG2R La Mondiale, and to the Giro organisation, for having made me safe after a severe asthma attack on the Mortirolo, which caused me to fall into a ravine… while climbing!" he wrote in a tweet, adding an 'Edvard Munch, The Scream' emoji.
Vuillermoz also wrote, "Fall down seven times, get up eight?" presumably referring to a pro career that has been blighted by injury and misfortune in recent years, including injuring his hamstring in a crash at the Tirreno-Adriatico in March, a fractured shoulder after crashing at last year's Tour de France and a fractured vertebra sustained in a car crash in 2017.
In a comment later issued by the team, Vuillermoz said: "I had an asthma attack on the foot of Mortirolo and it made me fall. I just want to thank the organization of the Giro, but also the friends of the team and the sports directors for making me safe at that moment. I was able to continue, despite everything. I lost a lot of time today, but the Giro continues."
According to L'Equipe, after being helped back to the road, Vuillermoz spent some time with the race doctor before being able to continue and finish what was a cold and wet stage from Lovere to Ponte di Legno over half an hour down on the leaders, no doubt just relieved that his crash hadn't been any more serious.
Having started this year's Giro with the hope of finishing in the top 10, Vuillermoz had started the day in 18th place overall, but, following the incident, had slipped to 31st place, 55:10 behind current leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar).
Un énorme merci à l'ensemble du staff, aux copains @AG2RLMCyclisme mais également à l'organisation du @giroditalia de m'avoir mis en sécurité après une violente crise d'asthme dans le Mortirolo qui m'a fait tomber dans un ravin...en montée! Tomber 7 fois, se relever 8 ? #Giro— Alexis Vuillermoz (@A_Vuillermoz) May 28, 2019
The team did, however, lose co-leader Tony Gallopin during the stage, who had been suffering with a knee injury. The 31-year-old had started his first Giro with the hope of completing the 'set' of Grand Tour stage victories, having won a stage at the Tour de France in 2014 and a stage at last year's Vuelta a España.
"No miracles on today's stage of the Giro," Gallopin wrote on social media. "Forced to abandon due to knee pain, which had become too much to bear in recent days."