Giro D’Italia: Stage 10 – (ITT) Foligno to Montefalco (39.8 km)
For a moment or two it looked as though Pavel Brutt had been caught short, or maybe punched in the stomach. He was behind a plastic orange fence, the type used to cordon off construction sites, and bent double. His was the familiar look of a man momentarily unconcerned about racing, just the structural integrity of his muscles and bones.
Then as the camera panned back, and someone wheeled Brutt’s bike back into view, the extent of the crash became apparent. Brutt had torn through the fence and landed in the front garden of a house. More than that. He’d crashed what looked like a children’s party, or at least a Giro party.
It came a few kilometers into the day’s Individual Time Trail. Brutt overcooked a series of tight turns and wound up cartwheeling over the plastic fence. But while it looked bad it could have been worse. The fencing had hidden a series of metal spikes; the preliminaries of a reinforced concrete wall, meaning Brutt had avoided medieval torture by a matter of inches.
It’s the kind of thing that can play on your mind as you sit in someone’s front garden, still dazed. One minute you’re setting a good pace, and the next you’re on the ground surrounded by kids in party hats, looking at your skin suit and space helmet wondering if you just landed from another planet.
Brutt pre-occupied himself with making sure he was in one piece, and ruled out demanding answers from the kids about the metal death trap. That would come later. Now he had to get back on his bike.
First word came that he was out of the race. Then, having been delayed by a medical check, jelly and ice cream, Brutt was back in. He emerged in a party hat*, having been given a new bike by his mechanic, and was back in the race, reaching the finish line in 183rd place.
That was eleven minutes down on the winner, but he was in one piece.
* This is not true.