Tour de France News for July 15, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
Beloki crashes out of Tour
Photo: © AFP
Joseba Beloki's Tour de France came to a painful halt near the end of
stage 9 when he crashed
on the descent of the Côte De La Rochette, the final climb of the day,
with around 4 km to go. The ONCE rider who was second on the general classification
was immediately taken out of the race in an ambulance. He was diagnosed
with a fractured upper femur, a complex fracture of the right elbow, a
simple fracture of the right finger and multiple contusions to the hip.
Beloki will be operated on tonight in Gap for his elbow, before being
medivac'd back to his home in Vitoria in the Basque Country to get his
hip and finger evaluated. The hip will probably require an operation but
it's not yet certain.
Race leader Lance Armstrong narrowly avoided the crash, which occurred
when Beloki locked up and blew a tyre on the melting tarmac of the descent
at 60 km/h. Armstrong was 5m behind Beloki when he lost it, and went straight
ahead down the embankment, re-catching the group he was with after a short
cross country diversion.
Photo: © AFP
Afterwards, Armstrong said that it was "the scare of my life...In a moment
like that, it's only a reflex of survival. When you see something happening
like that the first thing you do is ask yourself 'Ok, where do I go?'
I couldn't go right and I couldn't go over him, so I could only go left
and into the field. Then I just kept going and got back on the road as
quickly as I could. When I was riding through the field I felt like a
"I'm really sorry for Beloki," added Armstrong. "He was riding aggressively
and was in the race. When he crashed we were trying to bring Vinokourov
back and the time gap was going down. It was only 10 seconds and he was
going flat out on the descent. You hate to see a guy go down like that
while he's doing his best."
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