Belgian cyclist Philippe Gilbert has posted a brutal picture of the injuries he suffered in a terrifying high-speed crash at the Tour de France.
Gilbert was forced to withdraw from the Tour on Tuesday after a spectacular crash into a ravine on stage 16.
Quick-Step veteran Gilbert was 57.2 km from the finish and in the lead of the 218km-long 16th stage when he negotiated a bend badly and flew headfirst over a wall.
Although he was helped back onto his bike to finish the stage, won by French teammate Julian Alaphilippe, Gilbert emerged from the X-ray truck suffering from his endeavours.
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He has since taken to social media with a picture of his severely swollen left knee, which is humongous compared to his right.
“When you have a broken knee cap and decide to keep going for another 60km,” he wrote.
When you have a broken knee cap and decide to keep going for another 60km 🤕 pic.twitter.com/cGoidtQH3w
— PHILIPPE GILBERT (@PhilippeGilbert) July 25, 2018
Knowing his Tour was most likely over, Gilbert’s effort to continue for another 60km was either incredibly gutsy or incredibly ill-advised.
“I want to say that I’m happy to be here after that tough moment,” he said on Tuesday.
“This isn’t how I wanted to finish my Tour and leaving it like this really hurts.”
Gilbert’s crashed on the same descent, albeit several kilometres below, that Italian Fabio Casartelli died in a horrible crash in 1995.
Negotiating a left-hand bend at speed, Gilbert failed to brake in time, skidded and was sent flying head first over a parapet to land on rocks several metres below.
Television pictures showed officials helping him to climb back out and onto the road, where he jumped gingerly back on his bike to finish the race.
“We played it well. I attacked to put a little bit of pressure on our group, I wanted to help Julian,” Gilbert added.
“Tactically, we did well, but I crashed and it was all my fault. I simply took the wrong line.
“I fell onto rocks and, when I landed, I thought I’d been broken apart. I’ve had a lucky escape.”
The race ends Sunday on the Champs Elysees in Paris.