Ilnur Zakarin: Crashing in style

Tour of Catalunya. Stage 4: La Seu d’Urgeil to Igualada

Zakarin (right) climbs back onto his bike

Ilnur Zakarin was the victim of a bad pile up today. At least that was one way to look at it. Another was to consider him the advert for a new type of lifestyle choice, the zoned out rock star, sunglasses on, and parking his backside at the side of the road while others cleared up the madness behind him. Crash he might have done, but if such a thing were possible, Zakarin had crashed in style.

It happened around Prats de Rei, 31 km from the finish line of a snow-shortened Stage 4. The peloton divided as it approached a roundabout, and as they were reunited things got a little too close.

Footage showed the mess, with Cofidis riders, standing in the middle of a tangled pile of bikes, reenacting scenes performed by Rayane Bouhani only last week. And there was Zakarin, making his way through traffic in a daze.

Zakarin taking it easy (or at least looking that way)

Somehow he avoided further collisions, reaching the grass verge looking like he’d just survived one of those grotesque accidents filmed by a Russian dash-cams, in which an 18-wheeler lands on a cyclist, who miraculously walks away, a little dusty, because the driver left the passenger side window open.

Whatever agony this was he was suffering, he seemed to make it look, momentarily at least, cool. (That can’t be the right word, can it?) He was making it look easy, which isn’t easy to do when your entire 1.87-meter frame is made almost entirely from bone.

That was until he stood up.

Something was wrong. For a start he kept wanting to take his shirt off, like a drunk friend (“Ilnur, mate… put your shirt back on.”), and while he’d tapped his chest to direct his team doctor to the pain, he was soon having his collarbone examined, another break, like the one he collected at the Giro last year, the suspected injury.

The doctor looked over Zakarin’s collarbone and, figuring there was nothing scary sticking out, gave him the all clear to continue. Besides, he was heading towards his bike anyhow, and didn’t look like he wanted to stop.

Pain or no pain Zakarin was ready to be paced back to the peloton by teammates Robert Kišerlovski and Rein Taarmäe – which they did; Zakarin finishing at the back of the main group, the highest ranked Katusha-Alpecin rider of the day.

Katusha tweeted tonight that it was a “rip bruise”, which we should probably take to mean rib bruise. Or maybe a broken one. Heroics from Zakarin today, who for a few moments made crashing, seem desirable. But he won’t start Stage 5.

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