Race leader Sergio Higuita injures knee in Tour de Pologne crash

Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) banged up in a crash on stage 4
Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) banged up in a crash on stage 4 (Image credit: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

"It hurts," was how Tour de Pologne leader Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) simply and graphically described the injury he suffered after a heavy fall late on stage 4.

Higuita was able to hang on to the race lead as his crash was inside the last three kilometres and take things at his own pace on the way to the uphill finish in Sanok.

But the grim look on his face as he rode gently up the final climb, accompanied by teammate Cesare Benedetti, and the blood running from a cut on his right knee confirmed that this had been no easy day.

Stage winner Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) was among those concerned enough to ask Higuita how he was doing as he took questions in the mixed zone after the finish, with a bandage around the knee.

But if he seemed able to walk OK in his brief series of questions, Higuita confirmed it was not an easy injury to handle and only time would reveal how seriously it could affect his chances.

"The corner was probably a little bit dirty and first one guy from Cofidis went down and then everybody braked. I braked and went on the right side," he said about the accident just after a roundabout and right-hand turn.

"And I crashed alone. It was super bad luck."

As for whether the crash will affect his chances in the overall, Higuita said honestly, "it's possible because tomorrow [Wednesday] I think I won't feel comfortable on the bike because of my knee."

"It is painful but I will try to recover for the coming days. I'll try and finish this race safe, I don't want to crash more, because I'm focussed on the Vuelta and I want to be in good shape there."

Higuita's first challenge is getting through Wednesday's 178-kilometre stage from Lancut to Rzeszow, a relatively flat stage, and assuming that goes well, Thursday's crunch 11-kilometre time trial will see Higuita directly under the spotlight as he defends his overall lead. 

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.