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Johnny Hoogerland, 29 today.

Hoogerland became one of the stars of the 2011 Tour de France for his repeated attacks, five days in the Polka Dot Jersey and a horrific crash that could very easily have ended his career.

Frightening!

During Stage 9, in a break with Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha, the driver in a France Télévision official car realised he was about to hit a tree on the left hand side of the road. Rather than slamming on the car’s brakes he swerved right, hitting the two riders. Flecha hit the road hard and received extensive bruising, but Hoogerland was catapulted into a barbed wire fence with enough force to smash a wooden fence post and become entangled in the wire, which left him with deep lacerations to his buttocks and legs.

Both men got back on their bikes and finished the stage. Organisers extended the maximum permitted time so that they could do without being disqualified, then jointly awarded them what must have been the most-deserved Combativity Award for many years. Afterwards, Hoogerland was given 33 stitches.

Happy Birthday!

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