Dutch rider Johnny Hoogerland wears the polka dot jersey while cycling with his father Cees near Aurillac, on the first rest day of the Tour de France...
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"I think the post and barbed wire saved Johnny's life"
The fence post and barbed wire that stopped Johnny Hoogerland's flight path to gruesome effect on stage 9 of the Tour de France is set to be auctioned off for charity, AD.nl reports.
Speaking on the television programme "Tour du Jour", Hoogerland's father Cees was presented with the infamous object which inflicted so many deep cuts to his son's lower body.
"I don't need that thing!", Hoogerland senior proclaimed, but then added he would probably use the post to support a charity. "Johnny is an ambassador for Jayden [a charity for childhood cancer], I think we will auction it off, there are probably plenty of people who want it.
"I think it saved Johnny's life," he said. "It broke his fall - if you look closely at the pictures, you can see that he would have fallen on his back or head. Who knows how it could have turned out."
Hoogerland was taken out of the day's winning breakaway when a vehicle from French television clipped Juan Antonio Flecha while attempting to pass at speed, sending the Spaniard into the Vacansoleil rider's path. It was a shocking incident in a Tour riddled with crashes.
It was an emotional moment for Cees Hoogerland, who was on the course when his son suffered the fall. "We shed a lot of tears together after the finish," he admitted. "I'm glad he is alive, we all saw in the Giro d'Italia how things can go wrong," he said, echoing statements made by Johnny Hoogerland, who also remembered the death of Wouter Weylandt following his incident.
Since then, Hoogerland has received an outpouring of support from the world, not just from his fellow riders like Fränk Schleck, who said "As from today, you are officially my hero", but also in a call from the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Still sporting his 33 stitches as well as the Tour de France's polka dot jersey as best climber, the newest star of the Vacansoleil-DCM team has been encouraged, and according to AD.nl, he has vowed to attack in the Pyrenees.
"If Johnny says he will try, he will do it," said his team director Michel Cornelisse. "It's wait and see how his body will react, after all he has experienced, on the harder climbs. He certainly will not surrender without a fight."
- Tour de France