Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb out of Tour de France. Gilbert with patella fracture.


Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb out of Tour de France. Gilbert with patella fracture.

Saturday night investigations at the Clinique Saint-Jean in Cagnes-sur-Mer revealed a broken kneecap of the left knee of Philippe Gilbert. The Lotto Soudal rider will be unable to take the start in stage two of the Tour de France.

I was riding around position 20 in the peloton when they crashed in front of me", explained Philippe Gilbert. "I managed to escape that crash. I passed two, three fallen riders and thought to be safe, but then they crashed again, and this time I couldn’t avoid them anymore. We were lying there with 10-15 guys… Immediately I tried to get up, but that was impossible. I’ve waited there some two minutes, leaning against a guardrail. Then I left alone without being able to really push on the pedals. In a small group of dropped riders, I managed to finish, without being able to help the others. I was in pain. A pain I recognized from 2018...

The pain that the former world champion was going through can only be imagined after he was diagnosed with a fracture of the same knee cap. In the 2018 Tour de France, Philippe Gilbert broke indeed the same patella after a crash in the descent of the Portet d’Aspet.

After the finish in Nice and the first medical aid by team doctor Jens De Decker, Gilbert was brought to the medical truck where X-rays did not reveal a major problem. An MRI in the hospital however revealed a fracture.

Was it the fracture of two years ago or a new one? We would only be sure after an ultrasonography. There a fresh fracture was diagnosed. The good news is that it’s a fracture without displacement. First, we feared problems with tendons and ligaments. The doctor of the hospital, who took his time for us and stayed with us until 11 PM, spoke about an immobility period of two-three weeks. It could have been worse.”

Day 1 of the 107th Tour de France will be a day to forget for Lotto Soudal after John Degenkolb crashed out as well.

What a disappointment for us”, concluded Philippe Gilbert. “We are both riders who love their sport and job. We always have respect for the races, our team and sponsors. We always fight and share the same values. I have big respect for what John did, finishing after a nasty crash, 65 kilometers alone and arriving two minutes out of time limit. John gave everything, but got zero respect from the commissaires. With the rain and all crashes, at least he deserved the respect to put him in the result, even if, afterwards, he would have been unable to continue. So unacceptable.