Lotto Soudal will be without both Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb when the Tour de France resumes with stage 2 in Nice on Sunday. The team has confirmed overnight that Gilbert will not start the second stage after breaking his kneecap in a crash, while Degenkolb missed the time cut for the opening stage on Saturday after a crash.
Gilbert was taken to hospital after managing to finishing stage 1, but Lotto Soudal confirmed early on Sunday morning that the Belgian veteran would be unable to continue due to his injuries.
"I was riding in around 20th position in the peloton when they crashed in front of me. I managed to escape that crash. I passed two or three fallen riders, and thought I was safe, but then they crashed again, and this time I couldn’t avoid them anymore," Gilbert said in a press release of the crash that would end what was his 10th Tour de France on only the first day.
"I was lying there with 10-15 guys," he continued. "Immediately, I tried to get up, but that was impossible. I waited there for some two minutes, leaning against a guardrail. Then I left alone without being able to really push on the pedals.
"In a small group of dropped riders, I managed to finish, without being able to help the others. I was in pain. A pain I recognised from 2018," said Gilbert, remembering his crash at that year's Tour, on the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspert on stage 16, which left him with a broken patella of the same left knee.
"Was it the same fracture from two years ago or a new one?" said Gilbert. "We'd only be sure after an ultrasonography, and there, a fresh fracture was diagnosed. The good news is that it's a fracture without displacement. First, we feared problems with tendons and ligaments.
"The doctor at the hospital, who took his time for us and stayed with us until 11pm, spoke about an immobility period of two-three weeks. It could have been worse," he said.
"What a disappointment for us," added Gilbert, speaking on behalf of both him and Degenkolb. "We're both riders who love their sport and job. We always have respect for the races, our team and sponsors. We always fight and share the same values. I have big respect for what John did, finishing after a nasty crash, riding 65 kilometers alone and arriving two minutes outside the time limit.
"John gave everything, but got zero respect from the commissaires. With the rain and all the crashes, at least he deserved the respect to put him in the results, even if, afterwards, he would have been unable to continue. It's so unacceptable," Gilbert said.
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