AG2R La Mondiale team boss, Vincent Lavenu, has lauded Romain Bardet’s “admirable courage” after he “fought like a lion” to finish after crashing midway through Stage 13 of the Tour de France. The French rider later pulled out of the race having been diagnosed with concussion. Footage showed him trying to stand up in the aftermath of the crash before immediately collapsing again.
In a statement last night, team doctor Eric Bouvat said Bardet had shown signs of concussion at the end of the stage and so he was taken for a brain scan at the Clermont Ferrand University Hospital.
“This did not reveal any lesions,” said Bouvat. “However, Romain Bardet must stop all his sporting activities for the moment, and he will therefore not be able to take part in the start of the stage tomorrow.”
Bardet appeared groggy immediately after the crash and when first coaxed to his feet by a member of team staff, immediately collapsed again.
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) September 11, 2020
Shortly afterwards, he remounted his bike and continued the stage.
Bardet himself said that the medical exam had confirmed what he expected.
“This stage on my home roads was the complete opposite of what I had hoped for,” he said. “The crash was severe, downhill at high speed, and I struggled all the rest of the day.
“The medical examinations confirmed what I already suspected, and I am not able to continue in the race.”
Lavenu commented: “We are all sad to see Romain leaving us, near his home, on his roads, in a stage where he dreamed of shining.
“He once again showed admirable courage and fought like a lion to the end of the stage. We’ll fight even harder to honour him, with a polka dot jersey to defend and stage wins to earn. We send him all our support and hope he will come back even stronger very soon.”
Cycling let us all down here. IMO race doctor needs to be fully accountable for this issue, someone with no ulterior motives but safety of the bike rider. We can’t leave this to the race, the team and especially not the bike rider! https://t.co/YJI3fY1d5c
— Matt Brammeier (@Mattbrammeier85) September 12, 2020
In 2017, Cannondale-Drapac’s Tom Skujins was helped back onto his bike after a heavy crash at the Tour of California, even though it was clear to most onlookers that he was extremely dazed.
Even more alarmingly, former Cervelo-Bigla rider Doris Schweizer said she was pressured to start a stage with concussion during the 2015 Giro Rosa.
“I could barely ride straight because I had huge problems with my vision,” she recalled. “I was miserable. I was misjudging myself with distances and speeds. Total loss of control. Somehow I managed to finish the stage.”