French rider almost paralysed after crashing at 130km/h in speed record attempt

François Pervis says "a few millimetres more and I would have been paralysed" after high-speed incident

François Pervis on a track bike in 2017
Pervis competing in the 2017 UCI Track World Championships.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Former track world champion François Pervis said he almost ended up paralysed when he crashed at high-speed over the weekend trying to break the recumbent bicycle speed record. 

The Frenchman was travelling at 130km/h in the Nevada desert when his tire blew out, causing him to crash and slide across the road. 

In a post shared on his Facebook page on Saturday, Pervis wrote: “The bike and the wheels were flawless, so we’re thinking it may have been caused by a little pebble in the road.” 

“I slid across the road for a long time like a spinning top before ending with a few barrel rolls. Luckily for me, the road was clear, with no posts or trees around.”

Pervis was transferred immediately to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a pulmonary haemorrhage and a fracture at the top of his spine.

“According to the doctor, a few millimetres more and I would have been paralysed,” the 37-year-old wrote. “But no panic, fortunately it didn’t happen and everything will be fine again very soon.

“I was not ejected from my bike which protected me extremely well.”

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Images shared on Twitter and Facebook showed severe damage to the hull of the recumbent bike used in the effort. Pervis said that he had been suffering physically from the after-effects of the accident, but was glad to have not been more seriously injured. "Don't worry, more fear than harm," he wrote.

Pervis has since returned to his home in France where he will continue his recovery.

On Friday, the Frenchman broke a 30-year-old world speed record over 4km, travelling at 112.47km/h. The following day, he set out to beat Ted Reichart’s human-powered recumbent speed record of 144.17km/h, but crashed before he was able to reach full tilt. 

The former track cyclist currently holds the world record for the kilometre time trial, which he set in December 2013, when he clocked 56.303 seconds at altitude in Aguascalientes, Mexico. 

Last year, Pervis called time on his 20-year professional career, in which he won seven world track titles as well as a bronze medal in the team sprint at the 2016 Olympics.

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