What is the definition of toughness?
If a bar fight broke out at the Olympic Village (Summer Games), you’d probably peg cyclists as the first athletes to get tossed due to their skinny physiques.
Maybe they aren’t the most muscular participants in sport, but that’s not the only measurement for being tough.
Sport is full of adversity.
Athletes get hurt all the time and there is always a grey area weighing how hurt you feel versus how hurt you actually are.
Assessing the damage in the moment (don’t read on from here if you’re a pro soccer player) is difficult because competitors want to get back out there and adrenaline only encourages your capability.
In 2011, Johnny Hoogerland not only got launched into barbed wire in the breakaway, but finished the tour.
Since you can’t get an X-ray or MRI on the spot, athletes go with their gut taking their chances that the injury is something that’ll wear off.
Then again, it’s okay in my book to live and see another day, but that’s after years of bad decisions that I’m paying for now.
If you want to show your friends how tough cyclists are, all you have to look at is this year’s Tour de France.
Seeing Gilbert’s incident was very abstract.
I just happened to turn on the Tour coverage right as you could see him take a bad line around the curve.
Watching him get launched off the side of the road was the scariest moment of the race because you had no idea how far down the ledge he landed.
I had to leave the room because of the thought that I might have seen someone die on live TV!
Seeing him get pulled out was an amazing relief, but the fact they were prepping his bike for a return was crazy.
I figured the number of broken bones was in the double digits, nevermind some form of concussion to boot.
Of course, he rode the next 60km and finished the stage, but leaving on with a broken kneecap was the right move.
Broken shoulders seem to happen so much in the Tour that you’re almost expected to finish the stage before a doctor gets to you.
Sure, once the x-rays come through your race is over, but that’s how tough cyclists are.
Lawson Craddock took it to a whole new level crashing into a ditch after hitting a bottle breaking his scapula.
This was on the first day of racing, so it looked impossible to go through another three weeks of this seemed crazy.
He suited up the next day and it was apparent he was severely limited not being able to come out of the saddle with all the pain.
Every day, he looked a little bit better, but the biggest test was whether his shoulder would hold up for the cobbles on Stage 9.
He persevered, made all the time cuts and never relinquished the designation of lanterne rouge for the whole race, a first.
If you think this kid doesn’t have guts, look at this crash he survived just a few months earlier:
Rubbing may be racing, but there’s a thin margin between speed and splat.
With just 17 km to go, former World TT Champion Tony Martin got mixed up with the current KOM leader Tom Skujiņš and GC contender Dan Martin (no relation).
Thanks to the proliferation of bike cameras, we got a doorstep view of this unfortunate pile up.
Needless to say, getting launched at 35 mph in the mass of the peloton is not going to end well.
After finishing the stage, he was diagnosed with a spinal fracture. Damn.
Finishing 2nd in last year’s race, Uran was one of the favorites going in.
The cobbled Stage 9 was a big wild card for the fear that it would take out some of the top contenders which ended up getting realized.
Even before they hit those roughshod sectors, Richie Porte was taken out of the race missing out at a chance for the yellow jersey the second year in a row.
Uran crashed on the same stage, but ended up reaching the finish line, albeit losing time on the leaders.
The day after was a rest day followed by two flat stages, but once they hit the mountains he called it a tour.
We’ve all smashed our body parts hard before and the stinging gets even worse a couple days, so abandoning early with leg pain is fully understandable.
I’m sure he wished he could of found out sooner, but these elite athletes go until they can’t no more.
Get used to hearing this name in cycling as this 21 year-old made his grand tour debut as a domestique, yet finished 15th overall where responsible of Chris Froome making the podium after dragging him back on a few times.
This was supposed to be a learning experience how to survive three weeks of elite racing and did in impressively, but not without a few hiccups.
On the first day, he crashed within the last 10km losing 75 seconds to the leaders as he rolled in with fellow countryman Nairo Quintana.
Things went smooth for a week until he hit Stage 9.
Making a right hand turn onto the cobbles, Bernal took a bit too much of an angle resulting in this:
He got back onto the bike, but if someone told me he had a concussion, I wouldn’t be surprised (there needs to be a protocol for this).
One of the toughest things about a crash is getting yourself back into the race.
There’s so much going on when you’re stuck in the motorcade, I’m surprised more of this didn’t happen:
— País do Ciclismo (@DoCiclismo) July 16, 2018
At the end of the day, Bernal lost 15 minutes to the leaders on this one stage. Had he not lost this time, he would have won the white jersey by five minutes and finished ahead of Quintana. Yikes!
Taylor Phinney is a warrior and the fact that he’s still racing after the injuries he suffered in 2014 is a testament to it. On the verge of finishing his second Tour de France, Taylor had a moment that would end most people’s Tours. Riding the last mountain stage of the race, Phinney hit a bump causing him to lose control and hit a tree.
The resulting broken nose is not surprising, but he also got diagnosed with an orbital fracture.
Needless to say, trying to finish a race with difficulty breathing and sinuses exploding is no easy task, especially when you’re up against a time limit.
He ended up barely making the time cut and earned the right a couple of days later riding on the Champs-Elysees.
Once again, Froome went into the race as the favorite, albeit with a lot of controversy about his inclusion.
If you’re able to look past the salbutamol issue and lack of personality (probably not), he is a fun racer to watch because he does go for it.
On the first stage, he had a pretty vicious looking crash going off road, but was able to get back on to lose just 51 seconds:
I guess he has the grass to thank for that.
Still, he experienced his fair share of tumbles, including the compulsory dive during the cobbles stage which he was able to bring himself pack to the GC group.
The crash that was most unexpected was after the short, but exhausting Stage 17, Froome was riding back to his bus along with his bodyguard.
Getting pulled down as a pro tour rider by a cop is a no-no, but then again, it was a little tough to spot him wearing that generic jacket.
If only they were that tough on the others crowding the road.
This past Sunday, there was an amazing field of Tour de France entrants competing in a sprint race.
Not the one on the Champs-Elysees, but in London featuring a few riders that exited Le Tour because they exceeded the disqualification times on the mountain stages.
Peter Sagan isn’t a typical sprinter, but it’s still tough to not get DQ’d on certain stages.
While renowned for his descending skills, Sagan was still pressured in Stage 17 to finish within the time gap.
There was no video catching the crash, but you could clearly see the next day at the finish that he was too achy to get out of the saddle to sprint (green jersey towards the bottom):
He was lucky that he had already wrapped up the Green Jersey before the crash, he just had to finish on the Champs-Elysees to collect.
Was there any doubt he wouldn’t finish?
As the only non-Team Sky rider to win the Tour since 2012, Nibali was a serious threat to do some damage up front.
Another reason I considered him a favorite was how well he handled the cobbles versus the other contenders in 2014 which played a big part on him getting an early lead in the yellow.
On Stage 12 up the iconic Alpe d’Huez, the lead contenders were making their final push as the crowds narrowed the roads as security started to thin.
It was a choatic scene with flares obstructing anyone’s views and in the thick of it, Vincenzo got the worst of it.
Footage would later show that this crash was caused by a dangling camera strap, but that’s not consolation.
Nibali ached in pain, but in true TDF style, brushed himself off got back on the bike and somehow caught up to finish with the leaders.
This might be the most impressive moment of the tour because after the race it was discovered he had a fractured vertebrae.
Will he be back to race next your