Laurens De Plus should be dead. Or paralyzed. Or ripped to sheds — broken collarbone, ribs, forearm, nose, skull. hip, femur, ankle. He should in a coma, full traction, wired up to every piece of medical diagnostic equipment known to man. There should be thousands and thousands of people praying he manages a few more breaths.
Astonishingly enough and rolling a dozen miracles into several seconds of high action film, Lauren De Plus is alive and well and doing pretty darn fine. He’s in one piece, all critical systems still functioning.
When the 22 year old Frenchman over-cooked a dangerous right hander in Il Lombardia, hit the guardrail and flipped into the air and down a steep ravine, everyone watching feared the worst. It was one of the most dramatic crashes of the year — De Plus flipping like a rag doll while his bike pinwheeled airborne and into the trees. It was horrific.
Three other riders also crashed on the same exact part of the race course. Jan Bakelants, Simone Petilli and Daniel Martinez all went down, with Bakelants and Petilli suffering broken vertebrae and Petilli breaking his collarbone, shoulder blade and skull. Bakelants, in particular, is in bad shape.
Somehow, defying the odds and the terminal velocities at work, De Plus sustained only cuts, bruises and, to quote the hospital doctor, “a small avulsion fracture of the lateral part of the tibial plateau on the right knee.” No lasting damage, career intact, just four weeks on crutches.
“I was afraid that my knee was severely damaged, but fortunately it isn’t that bad,” said De Plus. “The doctors even told me that I’ve been really lucky with the outcome, as it could have been much worse. “It’s not the best way to end the season.”
De Plus also wins the award for French sang froid and deadpan understatement. Yes, it could have been much worse and no, it wasn’t the best way to end the season. De Plus is incredibly, amazingly, incomprehensibly lucky to be alive.