Bora-Argon 18’s Shane Archbold suffered a high speed crash while descending on stage 17 of the Tour de France, so hard it snapped his bike frame in two, but he still managed to ride 70 kilometres to the day’s summit finish.
The 27-year-old New Zealander reportedly crashed into a wall while riding down the Col des Mosses at speeds of up to 80-90kph, but refused to abandon the race despite the pain he was in. He arrived back at the Bora bus atop Finhaut-Emosson in ripped kit soaked in blood, and had to have help to get up the stairs.
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Cofidis’s Borut Bozic who was also on the ground with Archbold, but abandoned the Tour shortly after the crash.
“I’ve never seen somebody go through so much pain – he’s so hard it’s unbelievable,” said his team-mate Sam Bennett, who rode with him to the finish.
“I didn’t see it, I only heard a little while after. The guys came up to me and said ‘is Shane OK and I was like I don’t know’. The guys said he could be out he crashed really hard. When I asked on the radio I couldn’t believe he was still in the race after the crash.
“Apparently the DS wanted him to stop, but he wants to finish the Tour so bad.”
Archbold crossed the line 39 minutes after the day’s winner Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) in 174th place, after suffering over the day’s final two climbs – the latter to the finish in Finhaut-Emosson is 10.4 kilometres long and maxes at 12 per cent gradient.
“He doesn’t know what happened, but there was a lot of tar strips and they’re all soft and the bike just goes,” Irishman Bennett continued. “You really have to choose your line to try and go between them, but you can get caught out really easy.”
In 2015 Archbold crashed head first in the Arenberg Forest while racing his debut Paris-Roubaix, but battled on to the finish then too.
Bennett has also been struggling during this Tour after crashing on the opening stage and badly injuring his hand. He was forced to abandon his first Tour last year after stage 16 and said he was focussed on making it to Paris.
“I can’t really complain about hurting if you see what he’s [Archbold] going through,” Bennett said, although he was unsure if he could be strong enough to contest the sprint on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.
“I hope so, maybe I don’t know. If I can ride, if I can position myself I think it’s possible maybe. I feel good now but I think my body’s a little bit unpredictable at the moment.”