Popular German rider Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) was involved in a high-speed crash midway down the twisting Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard in Tuesday’s 159km 16th stage at the Tour de France, but team officials say that his injuries are not life-threatening.
In a statement issued late Tuesday evening, the team said the 37-year-old German is alert, but will remain hospitalized for observation.
“An examination at the University hospital in Grenoble this evening has initially given positive reports on Jens Voigt’s health after the nasty crash during today’s stage of Tour de France. He has incurred a fracture of the right cheekbone and a concussion. For now he is staying at the hospital for further observation.
“Jens has sent this greeting to the team: ‘I think I was very lucky not getting severely hurt from today’s crash. Now I hope that you can focus on the race and I wish you all good luck with the hard stage tomorrow.’
“The whole team in France and the whole staff at Riis-Cycling wish Jens Voigt a speedy recovery and hope to see him and his strong and joyful spirit back on the team soon.”
Voigt apparently hit a dip on the road to knock his equilibrium off as he rode at the tail of the group of GC riders. His front wheel violently jolted and the veteran German landed hard on his face and chest as speeds topped 70kph.
Saxo Bank sport director Bjarne Riis said that Voigt briefly lost consciousness following the brutal impact.
“I only saw him after the crash and he looked very, very bad,” Riis told Agence France Presse. “It’s not nice to lose a rider like this, but these are things which happen in a race and you have to accept them.
“It is too early to say how bad his injuries are, I didn’t see the crash, I only saw the aftermath and it wasn’t good.
“I am just concerned with Jens’ health right now.”
An ambulance transported Voigt to a hospital in Bourg-Saint-Maurice with two police motorcycles leading the way.
Official race doctor Gerard Porte told AFP: “He lost consciousness for three to four minutes. He has injuries, mainly to his face, and when he gets to hospital in Grenoble he will be having a full scan.”