Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) abandoned his final Tour de France today following a second crash en route to Albi.
"It's hard to race when you feel this bad but there's a sense of relief that you don't have to do it tomorrow," Vande Velde said."The form I had in the last couple of days sucked."
The riders arrived back on the team bus after completing the 205.5-kilometre stage from Montpellier to Albi and Vande Velde saw his teammates return to the bus, just as he will see them continue the rest of the Tour: as an outsider looking in. It is impossible otherwise.
Vande Velde crashed heavily in the final 15 kilometres of Wednesday's stage five to Marseille and there were doubts about whether he could even continue yesterday having had a metal plate in his collarbone knocked out of whack, causing bad back pains.
The crash today after 11 kilometres, which included Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen, dashed any chance of Vande Velde finishing his final Tour de France. He banged his right arm, which possibly has a fractured bone.
"I have no idea how it happened, people were on the ground in front of me...I didn't get up, I walked back to the team car and got straight in," Vande Velde explained.
He sat quietly on the ride to the finish in Albi. "I'm too old for crying and cussing" he said.
The rider from Chicago participated in 11 editions of the Tour de France. He placed fifth overall in 2008 and helped Bradley Wiggins to fourth in 2009.
When asked about his best memories, Vande Velde highlighted his time riding with Wiggins and in Garmin, which he joined in 2008.
"From 2008 onwards. 2009 was the most rewarding, I was so beat up but still made a good result and got Wiggo up there. Or winning the team time trial and GC in 2011."
Vande Velde rode as part of Lance Armstrong's team, including in the 1999 and 2001 Tours. Officials later cancelled his results from 2004 to 2006, after aiding investigators by confessing his part in the Armstrong doping scandal.
"I'm very sorry for the mistakes I made in my past," he said at the time of his confession. "I know that forgiveness is a lot to ask for."
With Garmin, he found happier times and a clean approach to cycling. So fond of his role in the team, he appeared more worried about leaving his teammates behind than his health.
"Especially with the younger guys," he added. "To show them the way and to push them and their capabilities."
Tour de France 2013: Related links
Tour de France 2013: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1