It was the return of hard luck for Marc Hirschi at the Tour de France, the Swiss youngster left to rue taking too much speed into a corner and crashing, just as he was making a run at the polka-dot jersey.
“I came in with too much speed and then I slipped away,” Hirschi said of his crash, which saw him detached from the group containing stage winner Michał Kwiatkowski and his Ineos team-mate, the new polka-dot jersey-wearer, Richard Carapaz. “It was sh** because I’d taken some points already for the king of the mountains jersey, I don’t know if I could have taken it at the end of the day…my legs were good but then I crashed.
The 22-year-old says he was using new tyres, which he wasn’t used to and may have played a part in his fall, before adding he doesn’t know if he’d have beaten Kwiatkowski to the stage win anyway as the Polish rider was so strong.
“I don’t know [if I could have won], Kwiatkowski was super strong in the break, he did so much work, the legs were good but for sure Kwiato deserved to win.”
Kwiatowski seemed to agree he had been doing the lion’s share of the pulling, and with the former world champion possessing strong work ethic, he didn’t appear to hold much sympathy for the younger rider.
“He was fighting against Richard for the polka-dots so when he took that risk…he took that corner way too fast,” Kwiatkowski explained. “I was behind him and had braked, at that moment it’s better to go at 99 per cent and stay safe rather than risk so much on the descent and ride away.
“He wasn’t keen to work before, we just wanted to race and not look behind.”
Hirschi’s sports director Matt Winston was full of praise for his young rider, who won his maiden Tour stage victory last week and has showcased his talents throughout his debut Grand Tour.
“He chased all day to come back to the leaders but it just wasn’t possible in the end,” Winston said. “But I think it showed a real committed effort and he was caught by the peloton with around 10km to go, finishing with the yellow jersey group. He showed his true grit throughout the stage.”
“For sure but also I was a bit scared during the [subsequent] descent. I tried but then I saw the gap was growing and then I exploded,” Hirschi added.
“I’m hurting for now but I’m sure I’ll be okay for tomorrow. I will go on.”