Four months after suffering a horrific crash at the Tour de France that left him with multiple injuries, Alessandro de Marchi is hard at work to come back stronger than ever for 2020. But a run-in with a driver on his home training climb left him 'fed up' and infuriated.
On July 14, De Marchi crashed out of the Tour, suffering a fractured clavicle and rib, a lung contusion with a pneumothorax and massive road rash including a gash over his left eyebrow that required stitches. The Italian made a successful return to the bike after 49 days and returned to the scene of his crash earlier this month to put the episode behind him, writing on Instagram that the intervening period was different from any other time in his life, "A period where I enjoyed family time, in which I reflected on how dangerous my job could be, but also months where I was able to realize, once again, how much cycling for me is like oxygen. The races, the training sessions and their programming, the search for continuous improvement and constant testing are vital elements that I cannot do without now."
A careless driver who came within centimetres of hitting him on a climb could have put De Marchi back at square one.
"I'm fed up, literally fed up and on edge," De Marchi wrote on Instagram. "I still have a sore throat from screaming and yelling at the umpteenth car driver during the umpteenth 'near accident' I was involved in today. I can not handle it anymore."
De Marchi said he rode from home toward Buja heading up a climb known as 'tonino 2' and as he was slowly climbing in the right-hand side of the lane, he heard a car and then a brush of air on his left side - the same side he crashed on at the Tour de France.
"The car, a big Audi, passes me at three times my speed, brushing past me for a matter of centimetres!". After skidding off the road to a stop, De Marchi screamed at the driver and said another driver who saw the incident laid on the horn and then began arguing with the Audi driver.
Making it up to the offending driver, De Marchi informed him that he could have killed him, to which the person replied, "I didn't touch you, go to hell!" before speeding up to his destination, a newsstand, where De Marchi snapped a photo of the tag, driver and car.
"Dear ignorant motorist, today, with your beautiful grey metallic Audi A6, you almost killed me ... to get to the newsstand first! Dear ignorant motorist, I hate you with all of my heart and I hope you read these lines or that someone remembering your car thinks of you and shows you. On the contrary, to the driver of the blue jeep, thank you for showing me solidarity and helping me. If you read this message, or someone who knows you recognizes your Jeep (a kind of blue Suzuki I believe) please contact me."
Road cyclists have always faced risks training on open roads but there have been a number of high-profile incidents involving professional racers in the past several years that shook the peloton. Dani Martinez (EF Education First) was attacked by an enraged motorist in Tuscany while out training last year.
Yoann Offredo was assaulted by a man with a baseball bat in 2017, Chris Froome was hit from behind and knocked from his bike by a driver in southern France, and Aude Biannic was left traumatized by a similar incident, and Michele Scarponi was killed by a distracted motorist all in the same year.
"Motorists in general: do I deserve all this?" De Marchi wrote. "Do I really deserve to risk my skin for the simple fact of riding on a road that is too narrow or too busy? Or why did I move too far in the middle of the lane and slow you down? Do I really deserve to die because I momentarily hindered you?
"Remember, you can kill with a car! And you won't kill just a cyclist: you will kill a husband, a wife, a father or a mother, a friend..."
Sono stufo, letteralmente stufo e con i nervi a fior di pelle. Ho ancora male alla gola dal troppo urlare e inveire contro l'ennesimo automobilista durante l'ennesimo "quasi incidente" in cui sono stato coinvolto oggi. Non ce la faccio più. Mattina di oggi, domenica 17 novembre, qualche minuto alle 10. Parto da casa come ogni giorno e mi dirigo verso il centro di Buja, salendo verso la salita di "tonino 2" come è conosciuta qui. Salgo piano, sulla dx , senza intralciare. Circa a metà di questa percepisco prima il rumore di un auto e poi la sensazione di "sfioro" sul mio gomito e mano sx. L'auto, una grossa audi, mi passa, al triplo della mia velocità, sfiorandomi per una questione di cm, ripeto CENTIMETRI. Mi sbilancio, finisco sul marciapiede basso che segue la salita e con tutta la mia voce inveisco contro l'automobilista. Lo stesso viene fatto dall'auto che lo segue, una piccola jeep blu, che, avendo visto tutta la scena, a forza di clacson lo fa accostare . Da lontano vedo che l'automobilista della jeep discute con l'altro. Arrivo sul posto che l'audi è ancora ferma, gli grido che ha rischiato di ammazzarmi e mi viene risposto : " Non ti ho mica toccato, vai a cagare !!!" Allibito non faccio in tempo nemmeno a replicare, che questo riparte sgommando. Riparte sgommando per fermarsi 200m dopo di fronte ad un'edicola! Arrivo giusto per fare la foto a targa, auto e guidatore (mentre scende per andare all'edicola ) e sentirmi ancora maledire dal soggetto. Caro automobilista ignorante, riguarda bene la mia faccia qui sotto nella foto, riguarda la faccia di quello che stavi quasi per ammazzare stamattina . Perché si, caro automobilista ignorante, il "toccarmi" di cui parlavi, nella migliore delle ipotesi mi avrebbe mandato dritto all'ospedale o su una carrozzina, nella peggiore dritto in una bara! Caro automobilista ignorante, oggi, con la tua bella Audi A6 grigia metallizzata, mi hai quasi ammazzato … per arrivare prima all'edicola! Caro automobilista ignorante ti odio con tutto me stesso e spero che tu legga queste righe o che qualcuno ricordando la tua auto pensi a te e te le faccia vedere. Alessandro De Marchi
A photo posted by @alessandro_demarchi on Nov 17, 2019 at 8:41am PST