• Sergio Higuita crashed out of the 2020 Tour de France (Getty)Source: Getty
Colombian champion Sergio Higuita abandoned the Tour de France hitting the ground after he lost balance when Bob Jungels swerved in front of him prompting a heated reaction by Higuita's team boss Jonathan Vaughters on social media.
SBS Cycling Central

14 Sep 2020 - 12:53 AM 

EF Education First rider Higuita went down hard at the 12th kilometre on Stage 15, his head also hitting the tarmac hard. 

To make matters worse, Higuita crashed again, 134kms from the finish, conscious but inconsolably in tears as he headed to the race doctors' ambulance. 

Jungels' move appeared unintentional, albeit a little careless, especially as it also looked like Higuita took his eyes off the Luxembourgers' wheel for a micro moment. But Jonathan Vaughters took to social media to express his displeasure. 

"To say the least Bob Jungels is not my favourite person right now," he tweeted.

An hour or so later, he followed this up with a Tweet admitting he was perhaps being a little subjective. 

"To be clear, I am not an objective cycling pundit. Not even closed. I am biased. 

"I am mamma bear: do not hurt my cubs."

The EF Pro Cycling boss also provided an update on Higuita's condition after his abandonment. 

"Sergio is fine. Broken hand or finger(s). X-rays will reveal the exact nature of injury. No head injury. Second crash was due to not being able to grab the brakes properly," he also tweeted. 

Jungels explained the incident after the finish line atop the Grand Colombier.

“We were fighting for the break, I was on the front, and at one point I wanted to pass the turn on to Sergio," said Jungels. "Without knowing, he was on my right, and other people told me he was looking back at that point, and there you go. Crashes like that are always unfortunate but that’s part of the sport."

“I was swinging off to the right after an attack. I didn’t see him on my right side. Unfortunately, I must have hit his front wheel, and yeah, I’m really sorry to hear he’s out of the race because of that crash. I don’t know what to say.”

“I really feel bad for him. I spoke to his teammates afterwards, I didn’t even know if it was my fault or not, but I just said sorry to his teammates. I spoke to [Rigoberto] Uran and [Jens] Keukeleire. There’s not much I can do at the end of the day but I’m really sorry for what happened.”

Jungels hit the ground later in the stage in a collision with a race ambulance, but he was able to get back on his bike and finish the stage in 43rd place.

“An ambulance was coming from behind and ran me over,” he said. “It was bad luck. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Frenchman Romain Bardet pulled out of the race two days ago due to concussion sustained in a heavy crash on the 13th stage. 

Much of the cycling world erupted at the lack of assessment of Bardet's condition by medical staff as he appeared dazed following the crash. 

The head of the Tour medical service, Dr Florence Pommerie defended her team's assessment, saying doctors who examined Bardet insisted he was fine to ride on, but AG2R-La Mondiale reported that after the finish, he threw up and was groggy.

“All that counts for the riders is to get back on the bike and to start again. If they are able to do it, we eliminate a big head trauma right away”, Dr Pommerie said

“We followed the rider after his fall. Romain Bardet didn’t have any initial loss of consciousness and the examination we did when we arrived was consistent.” 

Pommerie said the nature of the sport made it almost impossible to detect a concussion on the spot.

"You're always a bit dizzy when you crash at 40 or 80kph. We didn't prevent him from racing because he was showing no clinical signs of a concussion."

With the world watching when Higuita crashed, a race ambulance instead of the usual medical convertible pulled up alongside the Colombian and examined him for a significantly longer amount of time than Bardet's assessment.