Joseba Beloki - Reactions
Joseba Beloki, who kept to his promise to attack Armstrong, paid dearly for his new aggressive style today leading the chase down on a rampant Vinokourov. His back tyre “exploded” and the ill fated Basque fell very heavily, forcing yellow jersey Lance Armstrong to cyclo cross the field before miraculously rejoining the race.
Sadly there will be no more Tour de France this year for Beloki - Tour doctors have confirmed that he had broken his right leg near the hip and also sustained a hand and elbow fractures; the elbow fracture will require a further operation.
US Postal Reaction
Johan Bruyneel: "It is very sad to lose the most dangerous rival like this, it is something you never hope to see and would not wish on your worst enemy let alone a great Tour rider like Joseba. Beloki was Armstrong's main rival because he also had a great team. He was the rider I feared most - I wish him well.”
Chechu Rubiera: "We are all very sad about this, the relationship between Spanish professional cyclists is always strong because as well as rivals we are friends.”
Roberto Heras: - “Joseba Beloki has suffered very bad luck, it is a very sad loss for the race."
Beltrán, the third Spanish rider in the U.S. Postal team said, “I rode past him while he was on the ground, it has upset me to see him like that….”
Lance Armstrong: “Nobody deserves to have to abandon the race in this way. I hope from the bottom of my heart Joseba recovers fast and that he can take back his place in the peloton as soon as possible. I got the scare of my life when I saw him strike the ground. On a moment like that, it was only a survival reflex which made me avoid him. I ended up in the field next to the track and had to jump a ditch to take up my place in the group again. I was very lucky I didn’t hit Beloki and that later on nothing was in my way. What’s more, I made it to the right track without loss of time. At times, the descent was very dangerous because of the slippery roads, that forced us to use our brakes more than once. Joseba slipped on an oil-stain and unconsciously braked. In a flash, I saw his tire coming loose from the back wheel. This blocked his bike so he could not avoid the fall. I only hope his injuries are not too bad.”
Jorg Jaksche, the German rider of ONCE-Eroski who had been in brilliant form all day and was the first Once rider at the scene of the crash:
“I did not see the crash, only him lying on the ground. I went to help since I thought at first he would be able to continue, but I soon realised this would be impossible. I was shocked by his injuries and did not know what to do."
José Azevedo, the Portugese rider was also at the scene of the accident: "I do not know how he is, but it was a very ugly fall, he was in great pain and I stayed with him to try and keep his spirits up - naturally I am very disappointed, saddened and worried about him.”
Mikel Pradera: As well as disappointment and defiance the rider also raised an interesting safety point -
"Of course some of our dreams have been stripped away but we will try to do something in this race. The road on the descent of the Col of the Rochette was dangerous; they enforce the riders to wear helmets but it is the Tour's own caravan that ruins the roads just before we have to race along them."
© Copyright ONCE Eroski
As always, Daily Peloton wishes Joseba a swift and full recovery.