"I thought, 'this can't be happening'," was how Cofidis professional, Matt White, recounted his thoughts while he was waiting to be driven to a medical centre in Spain after colliding with a semi-trailer last Sunday.
After completing the 2005 Giro d'Italia, the Australian rider was out on his first training ride last Sunday, June 5. A semi-trailer had overtaken him as he approached the town of Denia, about 80km from his home in Valencia. But the truck driver was overly ambitious and had to brake hard for a set of traffic lights, cutting sharply in front of White, who couldn't brake in time and collided with the rear of the truck.
White split his head open and also damaged the same right shoulder he broke only four hours before the start of the 2004 Tour de France.
'Whitey' had hoped to finally make it to his first Tour de France on July 3, 2004, but crashed before the prologue and broke his right collarbone. (Cofidis had to scramble to find first reserve, Peter Farazijn, who was drinking beer and watching a rally in Ypres at the time).
The memory of missing that start of last year's Tour has haunted the courageous Sydney-sider even since, and he certainly made up for lost time by being an integral part of teammate Stuart O'Grady's victory in the Hew Cyclassics World Cup race in Hamburg that followed the TdF last year.
This time around, White told Gennie Sheer, Cycling Australia's public relations manager, that despite colliding with the truck and falling to the ground, the cars behind him simply drove around him and left him bleeding on the ground.
The rider walked to a nearby bar where staff gave him a towel to stem the bleeding, and then drove him to a medical centre, where a physician put four stitches in his head-wound, without anaesthetic. Yesterday, White got back on his bike and successfully completed a three-hour training ride, and his right shoulder is sore but functioning.
He is still on track to make the start of the Tour de France in Fromentine on July 2.