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Tour de France

VN news ticker: Philippe Gilbert, Chris Froome help injured fan, Simon Clarke riding Tour de France with broken back

Here's the news making the headlines on Thursday, July 15.

Philippe Gilbert, Chris Froome stop to help injured fan on Portet

Philippe Gilbert, Chris Froome, and Christopher Juul-Jensen had a longer day than expected Wednesday after the trio stopped to help an injured fan on the Col du Portet.

The three riders were riding down the Portet, after stage 17 of the Tour de France, towards the team busses at the foot of the climb at the time. Gilbert told Belgian broadcaster RTBF that a fan riding in front of him missed a corner and fell over the side of the road on the descent.

“I can tell you that there is a lot going on in a pass. In the descent, after crossing the finish line, I was following a bike, the rider missed a bend and was found 20 meters below,” Gilbert told RTBF. “We stopped to rescue him with Chris Froome and Christopher Juul-Jensen.

“These are facts that are not known to the press, but yesterday I lost almost twenty minutes to help this man. We called for help because he was badly messed up.”

The condition of the fan is not known at this time.

Simon Clarke riding Tour de France with broken back

Simon Clarke is unwilling to stop the Tour de France, not even for a broken back.

The Australian riding for Qhubeka-NextHash suffered the injury in a crash on stage 3, but it was only confirmed that he had fractured his L4 vertebrae ahead of stage 15. Despite the injury, Clarke is determined to push on and make it to Paris.

“It’s painful, yeah,” Clarke told Australian broadcaster SBS. “It’s a stable fracture so I’m not doing any damage to it, and I can push through it, but I can’t wait until Paris, to be honest. It’s reduced everything. You haven’t seen a whole lot of me in this Tour de France because I haven’t been able to put the power down.

“I’m not here because I get paid to do it, I’m here because I love it. I can still ride. It’s not pretty, but why not keep going? We’ll look back when I retire and I don’t want to say, ‘well, why would I just throw the towel in like that?’ Why not go to Paris?”

Qhubeka-NextHash has lost three riders during this Tour de France with Nic Dlamini missing the time cut on stage 9, while Victor Campenaerts and Michael Gogl climbed off during the second week.