The Garmin-Cervelo rider, along with BMC'S Karsten Kroon, went over a guardrail on the descent of the Puerto de la Ventana on the Vuelta's fourteenth stage.
They were riding with Lampre's Daniel Righi when “suddenly there was a sharp left. We could not really see that coming,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “The Lampre rider pulled in front of me and I could not avoid him. We almost flew along at high speed over the guardrail into the abyss.”
“I kept floating through the air. That's it, I thought. The buck stops here. It's over for me.”
“I crashed twice on the ground, with several trees involved, and suddenly I was on the ground. Just before the river. I scrambled right up and heard nothing and nobody. I tried to climb the hill, but it was too steep. The pulled me up with branches.”
Finally back on the road, he – of course – got back on the bike and rode on. Not that it was easy. “It was a crucifixion. Everything hurt. I was in shock. Two hours on a stretch on my bike crying."
Teammate Andreas Klier helped him up to the grupetto, and then he still had to face the grueling final 16km climb up La Farrapona, with the help of teammate Andreas Klier and Stijn Devolder. “I will remain eternally grateful. They literally pushed me upward. Without them I would not have made it.”
Once the stage was over, he was taken to hospital in Oviedo. Late last night he was given the good news that although his back and neck are bruised, and with his whole body covered with scrapes and abrasions, nothing was broken.
For Vanmarcke it was clear. He would be at the start again on Sunday, even though his team management is opposed to the idea. “I will ride through to Madrid. Nothing can stop me.”
Kroon was not so lucky. He was forced to withdraw from the race with a broken arm.