New Zealand cyclist Jack Bauer was left angered and shaken by a bizarre crash during stage 18 of the Tour de France, with the BikeExchange-Jayco rider coming down while he was chasing back onto the bunch.
Bauer was caught out by a freak combination of events with just over 95 kilometres left to race. A sudden narrowing of the road and a decision by a race motorbike to suddenly stop combined to throw the Dutch rider Nils Eekhoff (Team DSM) to the ground.
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Bauer, who was chasing hard behind, was then caught between a UAE support car and a media motorbike as they slowed to miss the fallen rider, and closed a gap Bauer was eyeing.
Bauer hit the back window of the support car and crashed to the ground. He bounced to his feet quickly and gesticulated angrily at the motorbike, offering up some colourful expletives.
He then walked down the road in shock, while a bystander collected his bike from the road. He then shouted at those who caused the accident, as they drove by him.
“My gosh, is this the first Tour de France you have driven in?” he said.
Remarkably, it was the second time in a few days that the New Zealander had hit a car, and he said that his experience of doing so impacted his decision to purposefully ride into the back of the UAE car.
Riding his seventh Tour, Bauer explained to Cycling Weekly afterwards: “We could see it happening – the cars and motorbikes had stopped, and there was not enough space.
“But it was such a steep ramp that the brakes didn‘t help much so it was either head off to the left and hit a building or maintain trajectory and hit the UAE car.
“I hit the Shimano car a couple of days ago and I know how soft the panels of a car are compared to either a road or a building. That‘s actually not a joke.
“The back light exploded, the back panel of the car took a bit of a dint, too.
“It was such a ramp. I tried to lose some speed but immediately the back wheel just skidded. When the descent is too steep, brakes aren‘t much use. We are running road bike tyres after all, there’s not much rubber on the road, so I opted for the car. I have a little bit of skin off my elbow, that’s it.”
Bauer refused to blame the motorcyclist or the UAE car for the incident, explaining that accidents like that rarely happen.
“I don‘t like to give away free speed,” he continued. ”I like to shoot gaps when I make breakaways, not because I have a bigger engine but because I can come with speed, I can follow wheels, and what happened today was probably a result of that.
“You are always right on the limit of being on your bike, being on the road or in the back of a car. Normally things work out well: the drivers and other bike riders are good and things flow. We merge and it‘s more or less like flowing water, but every now and again, like today for Nils and I, there’s something stationery in our path.”
Bauer confessed that he had used some “unsavoury” language at the time, adding: ”When someone parks their car or parks their motorbike right in front of you and you‘re doing 60kmh coming downhill, you prefer that they didn’t do that.
“But it‘s the same as a couple of days ago: I get that the Shimano car is trying to follow yellow, and I get that cars and bikes are all trying to share the same patch of road, and I understand that when there’s a pinch point, like today on a steep descent, the car couldn’t go anywhere neither. The car has to stop, I have to stop, but my tyres are that small so I can’t.
“Maybe a more experienced person would have backed out. You are always right on the limit of being on or off the bike. I‘m not pleased with being on the ground twice in four days but apparently that’s the Tour de France for me.”
The veteran Bauer, who will be part of the New Zealand men‘s road cycling team for the Commonwealth Games starting next week in Birmingham, was soon back in action on another bike but finished the stage more than 36 minutes behind Vingegaard.
Barring a crash, Jonas Vingegaard is likely to be wearing the yellow jersey when the Tour de France ends in Paris on Sunday.
This article originally appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission