RadioShack’s Robbie McEwen deservedly got the cheers for his stage win at the Tour de Wallonie on Tuesday. But Gorik Gardeyn (Vacansoleil) also made a trip to the race podium to be congratulated for finishing the stage on a spectator’s bike.
Gardeyn’s incredible day in the race started when he crashed and was left behind by his team, who believed he was going to climb into the broom-wagon. Instead he battled on to finish.
“I was one of the first riders to crash. Initially I felt very bad but after I’d been treated by the race doctor I got back on my feet and tried to get back into the race… The problem was that I didn’t have a bike,” Gardeyn told Belgian TV.
“They had all gone on without me, my team thought I was going to abandon. It would have been a long walk to the finish, but a cyclotourist loaned me his bike and I rode on that until they were able to give me my spare bike. The bike was a bit small for me, but the key thing was that I could ride it…”
As Gardeyn pressed on, the cyclotourist took the seat in the broom-wagon that had seemed destined for the Vacansoleil rider.
“The broom-wagon followed me for a while until I could get the bike, then I rode full gas to get back up to the peloton and work for my leader. In order to say thanks to the guy who gave me his bike, I’m going to give him a jersey, or a hat and bottle. It’s thanks to him that I am still in the race. Thank you, sir!”
Gardeyn’s efforts did not pass unnoticed. After finishing 115th on the stage, he was called onto the podium to receive the prize for the day’s most aggressive rider.
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