A sharp right hand corner. Finally some space to pass a few riders on these narrow roads. A long left hand curve. Moved up a few positions again. I'm starting to enjoy this descend. Another left, but oh watch out there's gravel on the side of the road and a wall. Enough space to pass though...
Suddenly there's darkness. Nothing. Blank.
2 Danish riders (including the yellow jersey) shouting at me, their words distant and faint. I can't figure out what they are trying to say. As I'm lifting my hands, gesturing them to calm down...
... everything goes blank again.
A concerned face looks at me from above asking: "Parlez-vous français?". "Non, je parle anglais", I reply with a bad accent. "Ah that's perfect!", the man replies and his face becomes a little less worried. I'm slowly becoming aware of my surroundings. It's a narrow space with a lot of white and all sorts of devices hanging and lying around me. Then it hits me! An ambulance! Something must have happened and I'm lying in an ambulance!
No! This can't be happening! I didn't just survive 3 hectic stages to crash out on the first mountain stage! Surely it can't be that bad, let me just ask them to let me out of here to continue the stage..
Then something else comes into my sight. It has been there the whole time but I didn't pay any attention to it until now. How come it's always in my sight even when I look somewhere else and why is it so red? Wait a minute, that's my lip! I can still ride with an injured lip though? Why did they carry me into the ambulance?
As I try to move a stinging pain shoots through my left shoulder and the answer is pretty clear. It is the bone that each cyclist is said to break at least once in his career; the clavicle, also known as your collarbone. So immediately I stop the thought of escaping and try to relax, which worked surprisingly well.
The same evening I was released out of the hospital in Belley with a fractured collarbone, 4 stitches in my lip, 2 stitches in my hip, a swollen knee, ankle and shin and road rash in various places.
On the way back to my second home, the World Cycling Center, I realized that not only had I crashed out of the most important race of the year, but also ended the rest of my season with this unfortunate tumble. There was no point in rushing back to training as I would only be back in shape by the time the season is almost over.
Life can be unfair sometimes. You use a whole season to prepare and train for that one single race and it ends before it even started. But there's no time to dwell on your "bad luck" and feel sorry for yourself. Life continues and no matter how bad it seems now, there's always something good to be found in those situations too.
By the way, I still don't remember what exactly happened in that crash.
Ciao, until next time.