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Tour de France spectator saved from fall into ravine by Gilbert, Froome

Philippe Gilbert is rescued from the ravine on the Col du Portet d'Aspet in the 2018 Tour de France
Philippe Gilbert is rescued from the ravine on the Col du Portet d'Aspet in the 2018 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal) stopped to help a cyclo-tourist who crashed while descending the Col du Portet after stage 17 of the Tour de France, the Belgian revealed on Thursday.

While being interviewed by Belgian broadcaster RTBF, Gilbert said that he was descending the Col du Portet after the finish of stage 17 when he saw the cyclo-tourist miss a corner and flip into the ravine. He, along with four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Christopher Juul-Jensen (Team BikeExchange), stopped to help.

"In the descent, after crossing the finish line, I was following a rider and he missed a turn and was found twenty meters below. I lost almost twenty minutes to help this man! We called for help because he was still badly messed up."

When Gilbert ended his comments by saying, "these are experiences that we also have," he meant it literally. In the 2018 Tour de France on different pass in the Pyrenees, Gilbert was on the attack on the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet on stage 16 when he misjudged a turn and crashed over a low wall into the ravine below.

He's not the only professional to suffer such a scare. Earlier in this year's Tour de France a handful of riders crashed off the descent en route to Carcassonne on stage 13. 

Cycling's history is rife with horror crashes on mountain descents. Johan Bruyneel crashed into a ravine on stage 7 of the 1996 Tour de France. Pedro Horrillo's career ended after a dramatic crash off a mountain in the 2009 Giro d'Italia where he plunged 60 metres off the Culmine di San Pietro. He was riding alone at the time and was only found because his bike was stuck on the roadside guardrail above. He was airlifted out by mountain rescue.

The Il Lombardia has had two recent incidents on the treacherous Sormano descent where Laurens De Plus, Jan Bakelants, Simone Petilli and Dani Martinez all went into the ravine. Last year, Remco Evenepoel crashed off a low bridge at a different point on the Sormano and suffered a fractured pelvis.

The cyclo-tourist involved in yesterday's incident has not yet been identified in the press.