ORCHIES, France – Slovenian sprinter Borut Bozic has hit out at Tour de France organisers after becoming the second rider in a year to be thrown off his bike after being hit by a car.
Bozic, who rides for Astana, had resumed racing after a toilet break early on Monday's 207 km stage from Vise to Tournai in Belgium when he was hit from behind by a race officials' car.
Having reached a speed of “40 to 45 km/h”, the 31-year-old was sent flying and his bike was crushed under the chassis.
A visit to hospital on Monday night revealed no lasting injuries except for a bruised arm and elbow and Bozic started Wednesday's third stage from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer.
But while admitting he felt “much better” the Slovenian remains angry with the organisers, especially as he has yet to receive an apology from the guilty driver.
“There's no excuse for what happened. I'm not happy at all,” said Bozic.
“Of course, we're only human, anybody can make a mistake. It's the first time in my life something like that has happened to me and I wouldn't wish it on anybody.”
The incident has revived memories of last year's race when Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha were sent flying in spectacular fashion by a television car that had tried to force its way past the pair.
Hoogerland came off worse, being thrown into a barbed wire fence that meant he received 33 stitches to his leg and elsewhere on his body.
Tour organisers were furious about the Hoogerland incident and immediately introduced stiffer security measures for drivers on the race.
In cycling races it is commonplace for riders to stop en masse, or by themselves, to relieve themselves.
When told by a reporter that organisers had claimed he was to blame for the accident, Bozic reacted with bemusement.
“What am I supposed to do, piss in my pants?” he said.
“After about 70 km a lot of riders stopped to piss. After 1 km I stopped alone, and when I started to ride back to the peloton about 200 metres later the car hit me from behind.”
Asked if the car had stopped to help him, he told AFP: “The car had to stop, because my bike was under his car!
“I had just stopped to piss like the rest of the guys. What is even more strange is that the driver of the car didn't even say sorry.”
Bozic will now hope his injuries do not hamper his bid to get among the contenders for the sprint stages in the first week.
“I'm just happy it's not worse,” he said.
“I thought the race was over for me because in two seconds my arm and elbow blew up like a balloon. I thought I couldn't go on because I was in so much pain.” – Sapa-AFP