The Belgian breakaway master had made his way into an escape bunch of six in the Tour’s stage to Orcières-Merlette and was looking arguably one of the strongest of the group.
Sensing his legs were stronger than the rest, the 26-year-old began to push the pressure on a swooping descent with 40 kilometers to go, only to overcook a bend, careen into an armco barrier, and slowly cartwheel over the fence.
“I have some cuts and I need to get an x-ray of my finger. But I was lucky,” Benoot said after the finish.
“That corner turned much further than I had expected,” he said. “I must have hit something with my front wheel, I started to slide and couldn’t correct anymore. It was a stupid mistake. ”
“I felt my wheel shift and then you have a panic reaction. You brake and then you lose control. I saw the crash barrier approaching and thought how to land as softly as possible.”
Benoot’s damage limitation measures worked, with the Belgian lucky to come away with only cuts and sprains to one finger and some bruising. His Cervélo frame was less fortunate however and is now in two separate parts, likely in a trash can somewhere in southern France.
After a swift bike change from his Sunweb team, Benoot dropped into the chasing peloton and rode to the line, 16 minutes behind stage-winner Primož Roglič. While Benoot will go on to ride in the likely sprinter stage into Privas on Wednesday, the same can not be said for his shattered Cervélo.
“My mechanic was not happy,” Benoot said Tuesday. “He had to assemble a new bike for me tonight.”