It was an easier day for Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) during stage nine of this year’s Tour de France - compared to exactly one year ago. It was during the ninth stage of last year’s Tour de France when Hoogerland was taken out by a media vehicle, driven by a Euro Media employee, whilst in the breakaway, more than five minutes ahead of the field and with 36km remaining.
It was his big chance for a stage win but it was not to be. He ended tangled amongst a barbed wire fence with deep cuts to the backs of his legs. Hoogerland finished the stage and was partially compensated by taking the lead in the King of the Mountains classification.
Hoogerland and his manager Aart Vierhouten have filled a lawsuit against the Euro Media, the company and driver who recklessly drove into his breakaway during last year’s Tour. It would be logical to believe the Tour organiser’s, ASO are responsible for ensuring the safety of its participants but according to Vierhouten, they want nothing to do with the matter.
"I sent a letter to them on 14 May and have only received an answer last week. They have again offered their apologies, but still pull their hands off the incident. They refer us to the insurance [company]," Vierhouten told De Telegraaf.
Race footage shows the driver of the vehicle clearly swerve into the breakaway while trying to pass the group. The driver was employed by Euro Media and was subsequently not an official ASO employee. As is the case, the Tour de France organisers want little to do with the situation.
"Sunday, I called Prudhomme, but there was little progress. I now want to discuss the matter. But he Tour organisation is not making it easy."