LE GRAND-BORNAND, France (VN) — With his hands covering his grimacing and bloodied face, and Jonathan Vaughters’ hand on his knee, Jack Bauer’s debut Tour de France ended on the side of the road on the Col du Glandon Friday.
It marked a painful few kilometers of odd and unfortunate circumstance for the New Zealander. Bauer (Garmin-Sharp), according to team CEO Vaughters, had crashed once on the descent, due to a flat front tire, but crashed again after the wheel change, when he rode off the lip of the pavement.
“It was a very narrow part of the road, a lot of cars coming, motor bikes. His wheel slipped from the roadside, and caught in a hole in a ditch and flipped him over the bars,” said director Charly Wegelius. “He went to hospital. He’s had several stitches, I don’t know where particularly on his body, because he was not in a good way. That’s all we know.”
The Glandon descent is wide open and fast for long sections, but curves back into itself time and time again. The weather was overcast but dry for most of the day, but the descent in itself is dangerous. What made Bauer’s crash so awfully unique is that the second time he fell, he went down into a ditch and planted his face straight into a fence, partially barbed-wire, and perhaps electric.
“He got going again on the descent, and just because there were cars coming by on the descent, on his left hand, I think he got a little spooked by one of the cars, and the mechanic was pushing him, and he kind of adjusted, and he went off the side of the road and it was where the pavement had a big differential, and he went into a ditch and just lipped over right into this half barbwire — I don’t know if it was electric or not, but the way he was screaming, it sure seemed like it,” Vaughters said. “The wires went into his face. It was … really unfortunate accident. No one really to blame, just one of those things that happens when people are tired and the tension is on.”
It marked the third reported crash of the race for Bauer, in his maiden Tour de France; he crashed in stage 12, to Tours, heavily enough to destroy his bike, but was able to carry on. Bauer also took a hard fall at this year’s Dwars Door Vlaanderen, sustaining a concussion.
According to Vaughters, Bauer is going to be “fine.” Agence France Presse reported on Friday that x-ray evaluation had returned negative for facial fractures and that Bauer had been released from the hospital.
“He’s fine. He had a bunch of stitches in his face,” Vaughters said after the stage ended. “So for all the ladies out there, he’s a little uglier than he was before. But don’t worry — it’ll heal up.”