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Johnny Hoogerland injury

Johnny Hoogerland after tangling with a barbed-wire fence last year. Expect more spills at the 2012 Tour.     Photo: Tim De Waele/Corbis

Anywhere in the world, cars and cyclists can be a dangerous combination. But given that the Tour route is closed to traffic, it’s safe to say that few riders are worried about being toppled off their bikes by some distracted or dangerous driver. But that’s just what happened in 2011, when a car that was part of the official Tour caravan smashed into the day’s breakaway riders on stage 9.

Trying to pass on the left, a car from broadcaster France Télévisions inexplicably bumped rider Juan Antonio Flecha, knocking him violently to the pavement. Riding behind Flecha, Belgian Johnny Hoogerland was vaulted into the air and landed on a barbed wire fence marking a field alongside the road.

Amazingly, Flecha was OK—he remounted his bike and received treatment for a scraped and banged elbow by Tour medical staff. Even more amazingly, Hoogerland was able to finish the stage, despite sustaining deep cuts to his legs that required 33 stitches. Sadly Hoogerland’s bad luck with cars didn’t end there: in February 2013 he collided with a car while training in Spain, fracturing five ribs and injuring his liver and spine.

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