It’s sad to see an otherwise exciting stage have an incident like this, especially when it’s a rider like Jens Voigt, who could drastically affect the overall GC outcome (and is just plain awesome—speedy recovery, Jens!). Still, crashes are a part of the sport, and picking apart how they occur can help you learn their causes and avoid them in the future.
(Editor’s note: his hand probably just slipped. Watch his left hand as he first his the bump.)
As far as I can tell, the crash was caused by a bouncing chain getting caught up, probably after being bounced inside the small chainring with the front derailluer set in the “high” position. I think everyone’s first thought seeing the crash was something in the front end—broken rim, fork, tire blowout, loose wheel, etc.
But after re-watching his post-impact slide a few dozen times, and looking at this photo, everything up front appears to be intact. The spot shadow above reveals that Jens’ rear wheel definitely gets airborne when he hits a lump in the pavement, and the saddle definitely gives him a good kick in the butt, but at that speed, there’s a lot of angular momentum keeping you upright and in-line; you can see the other riders handle it fine.
It could be that Jens’ front tire slips—it is right on the painted stripe when he begins his crash—but on sun-baked pavement I find that very unlikely, even given the miserable performance of SaxoBank’s rubber at this years’ Tour. Instead, I think he went to pedal, got an entirely unexpected response from the drivetrain, and as a result, lost his balance and fell.
While the though the direction and length of shadow makes it impossible to rule out that he pedaled with his wheel still in the air, I’m inclined to say that his legs don’t move until the wheel is back on the road based on jolt in the chain that appears to coincide with tire contact. Furthermore, I think that jolt leaves the chain in a different position than a few milliseconds previous.
For me, what seals is the position of his legs and static position of the rear derailleur: after a sunden jerk forward—as if there were no resistance from the chain—his legs stop, and his derailleur remains static when it should still be bouncing around from the impact of the road lump.
I suppose it’s possible the the rear wheel was jarred loose, but I don’t think that would have caused the derailleur to be pinned in such a fashion—there’d be no tension on the chain anywhere but the top section, between the chainring (source of power) and the cogs (location of jam).
The angle at which the derailleur suddenly stops—sharp enough that the chain probably isn’t on the big ring, given the its position in the cogs—also suggests the chain has been at least partially dislodged.
thoughts on “Breaking Down the Voigt Crash”
Did you look at his hands? Looks like he was moving his left hand into the drops as he was preparing for the bend, and then the dip came. May have shifted balance of the bike and with only his right hand on the bars, may have jerked the front wheel askew.
It’s very apparent it occurred exactly at the transition between new and old pavement. Probably the bump which has been mentioned several times.
@steephill noted that his left hand was off; the slow-mo shows his hand getting bumped off from the first hit, second hit (off the bump?) took him out.
He appeared to be braking on the hoods; only thumb hooked on – no grip. My lesson here is to always ride the drops and two-finger the brakes on sketchy downhills.
Did you see the comment from the French race officials?
Tour de France 2009: Voigt Badly Injured at Stage 16 (via @raygiannamore)
I doubt very much that any bike would have adequately absorbed that impact, especially if your only riding the hoods. I’m sure there will be more debate about this.
When he lost his grip, tried to grab the drops, but not fast enough….
As much as I normally agree with you, I believe that the cause of Jens’ crash was not a drivetrain-oriented issue. In the span between when his rear wheel comes down and he crashes I don’t see any evidence that he tries to pedal at all.
The detail that I fear you are missing is that his rear wheel regains contact with the ground before his front wheel. The sequence of events, as far as I can tell, is this:
1) Jens hits bump, goes airborne on both wheels.
2) Bump dislocates his left hand.
3) Rear wheel hits – no problems yet.
4) Front wheel re-contacts the road on the white line. With his left hand still off the handlebar, Jens is unable to maintain control when this happens. The manner in which he fell is congruent with having pressure on only the right side of the handlebar.
Since Jens was beginning to lean into the next turn, his bike was already off of a vertical plane, a fact that makes the innocuous-seeming action of hitting a dry white stripe on the pavement with your front wheel, even as it is coming down from a jump, much more dangerous.
Best of luck to Jens for a speedy recovery.
I think it had much more to do with his left hand than the chain / chainring.
Looks as though a first, smaller bump knocked his hand loose (or he was already letting go for some reason). Then the 2nd, larger bump caused his front wheel to jump slightly sideways. The spotlight in the video seems to focus on the center of his bike, but the story is all in his left hand.
Watch how his left hand moves quickly after coming loose. It’s evident that he was trying to grab the bars again. But it was too late. Had his left hand been on the bars, he would not have lost control.
Truly unfortunate for Mr. Voigt. A rider really worthy of respect in so many ways.
I crashed pretty much exactly like this in a race back in 2000. Now, I never – EVER – take my hands of the bars when descending. 2 days in ICU and a total of 6 days in hospital. 3 teeth knocked out, broken bone in my neck, skin/flesh ground down the bone on my right knee, upper lip split open up to my nose.
It’s amazing that I didn’t break anything major. I hope Jens comes out OK.
And yes … sometimes I wonder why I still race.
I think the hand theory is slightly better than the “chain getting caught up behind the grassy knoll.” It looks like the left hand gets knocked off the bar just as the rear wheel comes off the ground. He seems to catch the drops on the left but not have a good grip on them. I think he only lost his grip with the left hand and the force of just the right hand bars throws his weight off the right side of the bike.
Oh sure, if you want to be boring and look at something obvious like his hand…
You’re right. And now that we know Jens is OK, let’s talk about some more important stuff like Charlie Wegelius’ saddle-sores.
Oh Cosmo, I do have to give you credit for your powers of speculation. They are quite, quite impressive.
Yes.. front wheel hits bump hard, bumping left hand off. Tries to grab it but right hand is still weight that side of bike, starts go down down a little (notice a little rightward lean already), then rear wheel bump finishes the job (you can see he’s already leaning slightly right anyway, as the group was starting to make that right hand turn).
So I’m sitting thinking “huh. How does he fall so fast? Can’t see his hands, but everyone else seemed not to have a problem with it…”
Of course, you could see his hand—I need some more bandwidth.
Whist on the descending the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard, the road offered Jens Voigt a full Proboscotomy.
Jens forever the pelotons break opportunist and grafter leaped at the chance for the free Proboscotomy, Unfortunately too fervently, knocking himself out in the process, the damage to the road was considerable. Unsurprisingly his helmet remained unscratched.
The Mayor of Bourg-Saint-Maurice has recalled all his road working crews back from their summer holidays to repair the Massif groove left in the road. He hoped to have the repairs completed by the TDF 2015 where Jens will be forced to ride again for his team.
Bjarne Riis, stated that Jens would have full Neuro CT scan when a suitably large enough scanner could be located that would accept his nose without further damage.
The ‘German-Australian-German’ (in order to differentiate him from Heinrich Haussler the ‘Australian-German’) only comments so far were:
“Geezz Maaate I banged mee honker harder theen a pair of dingo’s going at et on heat”
He also mentioned that it was the only enjoyable part of this TDF thus far ‘because finally I didn’t feel any pain”,
I wish Jens a FOOL recovery (you wouldn’t expect less form Jens) and return to the peloton to race the TDF again at the instigation of his team and fans for even more enjoyable sneezons!!
Ouch. What I’d like to know … what are all those white things that bounce on the road after he hits. Thought they were his teeth at first! But that’d be a lot of teeth.
Hope he has a “no long term issues” recovery.
SPARKES OFF HIS FILLINGS!
Actually, the rumor was indeed that they were sparks…because Jens is secretly a Terminator.
The white objects flying were pieces of his helmet. Phil Ligget refers to them as, “Crash helmets” and they are just that. Long live Jens, get well.
it’s amazing how so many people can be so wrong.
you ever have a chain skip while standing up, accelerating? notice how Jens’ weight is not fully on his saddle right when he hits the transition in the pavement.
there is clearly a significant jolt, which is made worse by having no weight on the saddle (or anywhere on the bike for that matter).
his left hand wouldn’t have slipped had he been fully seated at that point.
The back wheel bounces but then regains contact with ground…happens a million times in TdF and I haven’t ever seen an amateur fall from that.
He drops his hand down on lower drop bar…again, no reason for anyone to fall whilst in straight line, no matter how fast, but it does provide destabilisation for what happens next.
The white line is probably raised above rest of asphalt surface (because the rest wears quicker, just look at any well used road. This becomes a rut which if you cross at a slight angle with unbalanced/loose hands causes the front wheel to ‘follow’ the rut.
There is no other reason for the front (and back) wheels to follow the line exactly all the way, even across to next line.
If he had his hands both firmly at same points, sitting back, or crossing at steeper angle it probably wouldn’t have happenned…so its a freak accident.
All the other things mentioned, chain, bouncing wheel etc wouldn’t even cause my granny to crash.
Not holding good grip with his left hand, with weight off the saddle, he was already leaning to prepare for the turn. When he hit the bump the bicycle responded by swerving the front wheel just when his left hand lost control and ‘fell’ to the front.
Viper: I’m not sure if the white objects flying were pieces of his helmet. They seem to come from under the bike, not under his head.
Don’t care what caused it – just horrifying to watch him go down like a felled tree and lay there. Awful, awful, awful. Glad they have to wear helmets now, so I only need to miss him racing for a little while. Hoping for a speedy recovery for the big guy.
this whole analysis thing was like beaten to death at cozy beehive. he came to a logical conclusion, matching with observation. why do everyone have to do it on their own blogs. c’mon….its just a crash.