Heroics in Flanders Fields (on and off the bike)

Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields

Cyril Lemoine, in a ditch, having possibly lost his wedding ring.

It was only appropriate, in a race named after Flanders Fields, one ridden through memorials and tributes to the fallen of the Great War, that trenches would feature so prominently. Specifically the heroics of men falling into them, and then climbing out again.

First is was Cyril Lemoine of Cofidis, a team that tends to feature strongly in crashes of late, and which you suspect doesn’t tolerate crybabies.

Lemoine was picked-up by the cameras, messing around in a trench that ran parallel to the road, either catching tadpoles or looking for his wedding ring. Understanding that with a bike race on this was no time for either, he clambered out, and, seeing no sign of his team car, began clobbering his back into shape with several blows to the handlebars. Bodge complete, and the peloton disappearing in a cloud of dust up the road, he set off to catch them.

Even more heroic was the effort of Robert Wagner, who earned a mention in dispatches for a selfless manoeuvre, worthy of a medal.

Richard Wagner performing heroics in the Flanders trenches

With the crash unfolding in front of him, Wagner was somehow off his own bike and putting his teammate onto it, before others had finished falling off. While they hit the gravel track, Wagner was pushing his man back into the race, not thinking of the lonely ride he had ahead to rejoin him, which he would do, finishing only seven minutes or so back.

Wagner watched him roll away, and then turned to find a Sunweb rider midway through the process of falling into a ditch. In the spirit of the location, and of helping a fallen comrade regardless of their nationality, or their team, Wagner hoisted him out of what looked like an uncomfortable situation.

Touching scenes in the fields of Flanders, both on and off the bike.

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