Movistar rider Marc Soler has revealed in disturbing detail how he was barely able to ride a bike after crashing hard on stage one of the Tour de France.
The Spaniard was badly injured in the mass pile-up with 47km to go during Saturday’s stage, the crash caused by a spectator whose sign was hit by Jumbo-Visma’s Tony Martin that sent dozens of riders to the ground.
The 27-year-old, who had harboured hopes of a high-placing in the Tour, suffered three fractures in his arms but was able to ride to the finish. He did not start stage two due to his injuries.
At a time when there is increased pressure on the sport to address injuries in racing and specifically concussion, Soler’s recollection of the event will raise questions, especially given how he is now not able to cycle for a month, ruling him out of August’s Vuelta a España.
Writing in La Vanguardia, a Spanish newspaper, the Catalan said: “The fall came at a point where the road narrowed, and we were looking for positions.
“We were going through to the front, which is the safest position in case there is an incident, and suddenly I saw the Jumbo-Visma rider fall to my right, and in front of me, I collided with [Mike] Teunissen.
“I flew, tumbled, and landed hard on my hands. They both hurt, as did my face where my sunglasses had broken and my shoulder too.
“I tried to stand up but couldn’t, I had no strength in my arms. The mechanic pulled me by the armpits, and I sat on the side of the road, I was really dizzy.
“There were still 50 kilometres to go. [The team] told me to try to continue but I don’t know how I did it, I couldn’t change gears or brake.
“When I got to the finish, I was worried about the time limit, but I couldn’t even get undressed on the bus, they had to cut them with scissors. Then when we got to the medical truck, they confirmed my injuries.”
Soler fractured the ulnar and radial head on his left hand and the radial on the right.
Fortunately for Soler, who was part of a strong-looking Movistar squad that includes veteran Alejandro Valverde and Colombian Miguel Ángel López, he did require any surgery but he is forced to rest at home and wait for his injuries to recover.
“No surgery was necessary, and I can go without a cast if I go well, which is what I am doing,” he added.
“I wear my arm in a sling and a wrist strap that immobilises the area. I have to spend between three and four weeks without doing anything, not even on the rollers because I cannot support myself.
This means losing all shape, as the body quickly adapts to rest. I hope to still ride a race, but I can say goodbye to the Vuelta a España.”
Soler, who won a stage of the Tour de Romandie in April, also confirmed that he is considering filing a lawsuit against the fan who caused the accident.
The Tour de France organisers ASO have said that they will not be taking such action, although the 30-year-old woman is facing criminal charges and could spend up to a year in prison.
“I don’t know what to do, [but] I think I will sue the spectator because it’s a whole Tour thrown away and I feel a lot of anger,” he said.
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