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Pereiro: I thought I was dying

This image shows just how far Oscar Pereiro fell

This image shows just how far Oscar Pereiro fell (Image credit: AFP)

Spanish cyclist Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) thought he was going to die in his Stage 15 crash at the Tour de France. The 2006 Tour champion had a horrific crash on the Col Agnel's descent, 80 kilometres into the stage, which saw Pereiro hit a barrier and fall nearly 10 meters onto the road below.

South African Robert Hunter (Barloworld) had fallen on the fast approach to a switchback turn, causing Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Pereiro to take evasive action. Pereiro sustained only a broken left humerus (upper arm) in the fall, which could have been much worse.

"I fell faster than the others," he recalled. "I think that Cunego was a bit afraid. He suddenly made a sudden movement, which I [caused me to be] evasive.

"I reached the safety barrier and saw the enormous drop," he added. "The next thing I remember I was laying on the ground. When I fell I thought was dying."

The rider was moved from an Italian hospital to one in Spain on Monday, where he was to undergo surgery for his injuries yesterday. Pereiro was recently named to Spain's team for the Olympic Games in Beijing, and was hoping to target the Vuelta a España, but will now be out of competition for up to two months.