Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale) said he plans to continue in the Tour de France on Saturday after he reported no fractures following his high-speed fall 60 kilometres from the finish of stage 13 to Mende
Second overall a year ago, the Frenchman has been redeployed as a rather deluxe domestique after losing all hope of a high overall finish in the Pyrenees, and he explained that he was in the process of performing his supporting duties when he crashed heavily, sustaining cuts to his arms and hip.
"I was looking behind, stupidly, to see where Alexis [Vuillermoz] was because the race was splitting up and I’d just come up from the cars with bottles and I didn’t know where he was," Péraud said afterwards. "I think somebody veered in front of me when I was looking behind and I came down."
After remounting, his torn kit flapping in the wind, Péraud oscillated between his team car and the race doctor’s car before eventually returning to the peloton (by way of an exceedingly sticky bottle and a fine of 50 Swiss Francs) with bandages and gauze on each of his arms.
Péraud was distanced by the peloton in the closing kilometres on the approach to Rodez, but crossed the finish line 5:44 down on the stage, in the company of early escapee Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin).
"He crashed at high speed with some big cuts, and there’s a suspicion of a fracture of his thumb, but he’ll go and do an x-ray to make sure," AG2R La Mondiale manager Vincent Lavenu told reporters as they crammed around the team bus after the stage. "He’s shown once again that he’s a courageous man, really out of the ordinary."
Shortly afterwards, Péraud gingerly emerged from the bus, though only after a pair of gendarmes had taken it upon themselves to move the heaving media scrum back by half a metre lest their microphones graze against his wounded arms.
"I thought about abandoning. Cycling is already hard. With a crash, it’s even harder again," Péraud said quietly, before climbing into a team car for the short drive to the Tour’s mobile x-ray unit.
The media scrum decamped to the same location, too, with white smoke emerging when team doctor Eric Bouval emerged to confirm that Péraud had suffered no broken bones in the incident.
"There are no fractures on the x-ray, which is a good thing and means that he could be able to start tomorrow. The problem is that he has some very painful wounds, particularly on his thumb," Bouval said. "They’re not deep cuts but superficial cuts can actually be more painful and they need to be cleaned. But he’s solid, I think he’ll start tomorrow."
Péraud emerged shortly afterwards and reiterated his doctor’s prognosis, confirming that he would be on the start line in Rodez on Saturday morning. "There’s no fracture, so that’s a good start," he said. "I’ll live the Tour day by day like I’ve already been doing. It’s not been a good Tour. But that’s sport; suffering is part of it too."
Asked if he might re-assess his presence in the Tour depending on how he felt overnight, Péraud was succinct. "I’ll start and then I’ll make a call on it when I’m on the bike, depending on how I feel," he said.