Juan Antonio Flecha has spoken for the first time about his crash on stage nine that occurred when the driver of a France Télévisions VIP car swerved into the five-man breakaway 36km from the finish in Saint-Flour. Talking to El País, the Team Sky rider revealed that he and his breakaway companions had no warning at all from the car as it attempted to speed past them and that the incident was made worse because the driver of the car didn’t stop.
“Strangely, I didn’t hear anything,” Flecha replied when asked about his memory of the moments before the crash. “All day cars with guests in them had been buzzing past us like irritating flies, making a hell of a noise with their horns to tell us to get out of the way, and then flying by right next to us, but this guy came up without sounding his horn. I was surprised and I didn’t have time to move out of the way. I saw a car was bearing down on me and, of course, you never really expect them to drive over you. This has never happened in the Tour. What did he think was going to happen to me?”
Asked if the driver had apologized to him, Flecha declared: “He’s not come to see me and I think if he did I wouldn’t want to talk to him. France Télévisions haven’t tried to apologize to me either.”
Then asked what he would do if he did happen to come across the driver, Flecha said: “One day when I was out training a car came out of a side road without seeing me, it didn’t brake and knocked me flying through the air. I got up and didn’t even want to speak to the driver. I didn’t want to look him in the face because he didn’t deserve it. And the guy from the Tour didn’t even stop to see what he had done to us! That’s the worst thing, that he didn’t stop. I would have stopped.”
Flecha explained that he had spoken with Johnny Hoogerland, who also went down in the incident, after both riders had been dropped by the bunch heading into the finish. He added that both of them had received shouts of encouragement from other riders. “They were urging me on seeing the way I was torn up and Johnny as well. They thought something had happened but nobody knew that it involved a car. They couldn’t believe it.”
The Spaniard described the joint award of the day’s combativity prize to himself and Hoogerland as “surreal”. He commented: “It would have been good to have been acknowledged, but not for being the most aggressive riders, which was a prize [Thomas] Voeckler deserved. They wanted to give us a consolation prize but we hadn’t done what was needed to deserve it.”
Flecha was also critical of new race leader Voeckler’s attitude in the break. Asked how he felt about the French seeming to accelerate following the crash, Flecha replied: “I see that as normal behavior for Voeckler, because he’s always like that in breaks, causing trouble. Just before that, Casar, one of the others in the break, had had a go at him because Voeckler had attacked on a descent after attempting to win the mountains points instead of waiting for those of us who weren’t fighting for them. He was completely focused on the yellow jersey. We all know what he’s like, seeing him act in any other way would have surprised me.”