Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) suffered bad injuries at last year's Tour de France when he crashed into a barbed wire fence on stage nine and he has been reminded once again of the danger faced by professional road racers already this year by the numerous crashes that have already taken place during the Tour's first week.
The Dutch rider has seen his teammate and compatriot Wout Poels end up in intensive care with numerous injuries, including a ruptured spleen and heavily bruised lungs, after he was involved in the mass pile-up towards the end of Friday's sixth stage. For Hoogerland it is a stark reminder of the vulnerability of those at the top of his profession.
"We are very vulnerable as cyclists," Hoogerland said in De Telegraaf. "The only thing protecting us is a helmet. We ride harder than a moped and have only a thin outfit to protect us. It's bizarre really, although there is no other option.
"It is dangerous. Look at Wout Poels. Hopefully he won't suffer any permanent damage."
Regarding the crash on stage six, Hoogerland said: "I am afraid anyway, so it hasn't made me any more afraid. You can see what happened to Wouter Weylandt [who died following a crash at the 2011 Giro d'Italia - ed] though you shouldn't think too much about that. Sometimes you hear footballers whining when they get a push - and then you hear about cyclists getting a punctured lung. We were laughing about that this morning," he said.
Hoogerland also stated that his progress at the Tour so far has been hampered by a troublesome knee, but that he will fight on regardless: "The knee problem I have is quite troublesome. But I will continue to ride, although it is important not to smash it. I have other targets this year including the world championships in Valkenburg, which I am hoping to be part of," he said.
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