It wasn't easy for Ruben Plaza to ride the Tour of Murcia this year, particularly on the first stage where he had to pass by the very spot where he last year flew off the side of a cliff. The Movistar rider is still recovering from the broken tibia, fibula and ankle he suffered in that crash.
In a horrible example of how the absence of race radios can create dangerous situations, Plaza flew off the side of the road and down a cliff on a 75km/h descent, and not only was he seriously injured, but his absence was not even noted. “I called out, but with the sound of the bicycles, motorbikes and cars, nobody heard me," he told Marca.com. "Those were moments of anguish. Imagine if I had been unconscious or bleeding to death. I could have stayed there without anyone knowing." In the end, he was able to crawl, painfully, back up to the road.
"Risk is part of this profession, but it was hard, after the falls that occurred last year, to go back through the same site. They have no consideration,” he said. “It makes no sense, I feel helpless. "
The Spaniard fell ill before the event, and was only able to finish 55th in the opening stage of this year's two-stage event, less than six minutes behind teammate Nairo Quintana, who went on the win the overall title. He was 28th in the next day's time trial, giving him 50th place overall.
Plaza is very much hoping to ride a full season this year, although he is still not yet 100 percent. "Four months ago I had surgery to remove the plates and screws put in me after the fall, and I still feel some discomfort," he said. "I want a quiet season with the Tour and Vuelta, because for some reason I'm paying for having two consecutive years without problems in my career, when that is crucial to getting results."
And he is looking for results both for himself and for his team. "Now I just want to think to get the best for the Tour, to help Valverde, and then the Vuelta, where with Alejandro (Valverde) or Cobo we also have possibilities. And, if I can, take advantage of opportunities that may arise."
Incidentally, Plaza has another distinction, as he may be the youngest rider in the peloton, having recently celebrated only his eighth birthday. Having been born on February 29, 1980, however, he can also claim to be 32 years old.