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Tour de France car knocks down rider in 9th stage

Updated: July 10, 2011, 11:36


Robert Gesink of The Netherlands, wearing the best young rider's white jersey, grimaces as he follows his teammates who set the pace in an attempt to catch up with the pack during the 9th stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 208 kilometers (129 miles) starting in Issoire and finishing in Saint Flour, central France, Sunday July 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

SAINT-FLOUR, France (AP) Team Sky rider Juan Antonio Flecha was struck by a car late in Sunday's ninth stage of the Tour de France, sending the Spaniard flying into Dutch cyclist Johnny Hoogerland and bringing them both down.

Flecha had cuts to his legs and arms but got back on his bike. Hoogerland also remounted his bike and continued racing.

The Tour car was parallel to Flecha before, the driver seemingly misjudging how close it was to the Spaniard and turning into him. He was knocked from his saddle and collided with Hoogerland, who flew into a ditch.

The 33-year-old Flecha's jersey was shredded on the back and blood dripped from his knee and elbow. Despite the heavy fall, he rode at a decent pace upon resuming racing.

By sheer luck, Hoogerland escaped a potentially horrific injury as he was sent flying narrowly over a barbed wire fence.

The pair had been in a front group of five when the incident happened but both were soon caught by the chasing pack, Hoogerland appearing to have some difficulty as he pedaled.

Earlier Sunday, a mass crash forced Kazakh rider Alexandre Vinokourov out of the race with a suspected broken leg. Defending champion Alberto Contador also crashed, but the Spaniard was unharmed and got back on his bike.

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