PAIN AND LOSS
Ben Hermans was feeling that his moment will soon arrive. The finish line on the top of the hill was a bit more than a km away and he felt that in a few seconds it will be his turn to move up and battle for a result.
His teammates were protecting him so he’ll be fresh and ready for the uphill finish, sticking together and waiting to the critical onslaught.
But then some wheels touched each other in front of him and the domino effect was inevitable.
A pile of riders came down and the only chance he had is to choose where to fall. “I decided to fall to the asphalt on my left shoulder. Better than on the human pile”.
It turned to be probably the wrong decision.
The severe pain has indicated big trouble. Indeed. He was taken to the hospital and the diagnosis was grim: complex shoulder fracture, plus a broken collarbone.
Ben will fly home to Belgium for an operation and treatment that will require at least two months away from racing or even more. “It’s devastating“, he said quietly. “l trained so hard.”
PRIDE AND HOPE
The Heartbreaking loss of our GC leader Ben Hermans should not make us forget the superfine race performance by the team that preceded it.
It started with a breakaway successful attempt by Omer Goldstein, making a move to set up his team for the decisive moment later.
He had to chase hard to reach the breakaway and made then survived till almost the 100 km mark where his teammates took charge.
In the team meeting before the race, he was asked to do just that: a breakaway move. That was his mission. But more times you fail to deliver it. Not an automatic task.
“It’s a great feeling to be there in the front and delivering what was asked of me,” he said afterward but when he eventually arrived to the finish line, the mood turned sour as the news of Ben spread around.
NEXT: NOT LAYING DOWN
There was no feeling of despair in the team by the loss of BEN although all shared his pain. “We feel for him, “ said The Canadian Guillaume Boivin. “It’s a big loss for us. But we will just have to regroup and step it up”.
It’s now expected that the GC keys will be given to G’s countryman James Piccoli.
He came second after Hermans in Tour of Utah and now will have to fill his boots. And it will happen as early as tomorrow; stage 2 will end in a 2km steep uphill and the GC fight will take place there.
And we finish this report with Ben. He was sitting in his room troubled by the pain and the long ordeal that awaits him. The only solace he took was the fact that “I had worst injuries”. Still, there is no doubt that he will need at least two months to come back after the operation. “I need to come back as quickly. I don’t see another option”.
Pictures: Bettini Photo