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Tiesj Benoot revealed further detail of the horror training crash this week that left him wearing a neck brace and healing broken vertebrae.
Jumbo-Visma’s Belgian ace collided with a car during a high-speed descent in the Italian Alps on Tuesday.
“Given the circumstances, I’m fine,” Benoot told Sporza.
“I have been coming here for eight years and have already passed 100 times on that priority road,” he said. “In the descent, I was riding 67kph but a car drove from a parking lot and the driver had not seen me. I was hit in the side.”
Benoot was out on an independent training camp as he looked to extend his Tour de France form into the autumn classics.
The 28-year-old was helicoptered to an Italian hospital only to check himself out of the ward days later because “he didn’t have confidence” in the treatment he was receiving.
“I was unconscious for about 15 minutes,” Benoot said Friday. “I did not immediately know what had happened, but then I knew that I had called Fien [Benoot’s partner – ed] and passed on the location where I had fallen.”
Benoot is now in a holding pattern until further tests late September reveal his progress.
He likely won’t race again until next spring, leaving Jumbo-Visma short of a top contender for the hilly autumn classics and Belgium one rider down in its mission to claim rainbows in the Wollongong road worlds.
“My second cervical vertebra is broken in the joint. I have to wear my brace for six weeks, day and night. I can take the brace off for a shower, but in principle, I don’t have any serious injuries,” he said.
“I realize 100 percent that I’ve been very lucky. I’ve heard enough stories from people who have fared worse. And when they ask you to move your hands and feet, you realize that.
“I knew that these are the dangers in traffic and you often say after a training: something just didn’t happen today. Now it just did.”
Laurens De Plus calls for caution after suffering collision
Laurens De Plus was also brought down in training this week. The Ineos Grenadiers climber posted an image revealing a swath of road rash up his left arm and hip.
The Belgian counted himself to have better luck than his compatriot Benoot.
“Thanks to the driver for driving [into] me from behind,” De Plus wrote Thursday. “Fortunately with a better outcome than my colleagues last week. Please be careful with the vulnerable road user #safetyfirst.”
Bedankt aan de bestuurder om mij langs achter aan te rijden. Gelukkig met betere afloop dan mijn collega’s de afgelopen week. Wees aub voorzichtig met de zwakke weggebruiker #safetyfirst pic.twitter.com/a5d6hSB36R
— Laurens De Plus (@LaurensDePlus) August 11, 2022
Two incidents with vehicles in one week lays bare the day-to-day risks pro cyclists face when training on open roads.
“You notice that there is more stress among drivers and that there is also more frustration towards cyclists, specifically cyclists,” Benoot said.
“That is understandable. The number of cyclists has increased significantly and not everyone behaves as they should, but it has to come from both sides to avoid something like this.”
Any training ride comes riddled with risk. Egan Bernal was high profile victim of a horror accident when he plowed into the back of a bus in Colombia earlier this winter.
Benoot pointed out cases of “road rage” can vary by location.
“It’s going well in Spain,” he said. “People are a little more relaxed there and there are also campaigns for one and a half meters away between car and cyclist. Italy is the worst country with a lot of stress.”