For the third time, Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) has crashed out of the Tour de France, only one day after finishing second on stage 8. He finished up watching the end of the Queen Stage on Sunday from a hospital bed in Oyonnax.
Less than five kilometres after the start, Gesink crashed along with Manuel Mori (UAE Team Emirates) and Angelo Tulik (Direct Energie). Mori lay screaming on the pavement with a broken shoulder and collapsed lung.
"Just in front of me, a man fell and I stumbled across him," Gesink told Dutch broadcaster NOS. "It was really not that hard a fall. I fell with my buttocks on the asphalt and felt it in my back." The 31-year-old was taken by ambulance to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a fractured L1 vertebra.
"It goes without saying, that I'm lying on my back and I'll have to do that in the next few days. I have to keep quiet. I have a stable break, so surgery is not necessary."
Gesink will be fitted with a corset. "That's to prevent me from making movements that I cannot make. And with that I'm mobile. But this will take a while. I almost never fall, but if I fall, it always gets hit."
There was no prediction as to when he would be back on his bike or racing again.
He accepted the incident philosophically, later tweeting a photo of himself in hospital watching the end of the race. "Out of @LeTour with a fractured vertebrae (L1) fortunately there was a big show to watch on TV. Hope all are okay."
Gesink later posted on Instagram, "Remember the highlights, focus on recovery and look forward to the upcoming chances."
He had not lost his sense of humour, either, as he tweeted Monday morning, "Wow, I'm so lazy this first rest day @LeTour I did't even get out of bed for breakfast... to wash... or to go to the toilet!"
This was Gesink's seventh participation in the Tour. He finished sixth in 2010, sparking talk of being the next Dutch Grand Tour champion. He ultimately moved up to fourth on GC after the doping disqualifications of Alberto Contador and Denis Menchov. He was also sixth in 2015, the last time he was in the race. A head injury suffered in a crash at the Tour de Suisse kept him out of the Tour de France in 2016.
It is the third time that he has had to abandon due to an injury. In 2009 he broke his wrist and 2012 he damaged his ribs.