Tour de France cyclist posts gruesome photo after cycling 60km with a broken knee

Tour de France cyclist posts gruesome photo after cycling 60km with a broken knee

Maybe it's because of the way they behave on the roads, or it's just the general perception of cyclists, but for some reason, it can be difficult to see cycling as a legitimate sport. Unlike sprinters, soccer players and football stars, cyclists aren't seen as athletes in the same way other sports people are. But, sometimes, you see something that reminds of you exactly how gruelling the sport is.

Right now, the biggest cycling race in the world is going on. The Tour de France is the pinnacle of modern cycling and people from all around the world either turn up or tune in to watch their favourite cyclists race one another for days on end. While some may label it boring and mind-bogglingly long, for others, there is no better sporting event.

Of course, cycling 21 day-long segments (stages) over a 23-day period and covering around 3,500 kilometres (2,200 mi) is going to make an impact on anyone's body, no matter who you are. However, for one cyclist, this impact became pretty severe.

On Tuesday, during Stage 16 leg of the Tour de France, Belgian cyclist Philippe Gilbert lost control of his bike on a notoriously dangerous part of the route and crashed into a wall before tumbling over the other side.

It was a pretty dramatic incident, made more extraordinary by the fact that the 36-year-old jumped back onto his bike and kept going with the race. Philippe hopped back over the wall, got on his bike and continued to ride the remaining 60km to the finish line while blood poured out of the bandages that medics had applied to his cut.

It turned out the Philippe had broken his kneecap and the winner of the 2012 World Race Championships took to his Twitter to upload the following photo. Be warned, however, it's pretty gruesome.

It's reportedly going to be four to six weeks until Philippe's knee fully recovers which, given the extent of the injury, seems like a pretty quick turnaround. Fortunately for Philippe, he went on to receive the day's combativity award.

Part of the Quick-Step Floors Belgian UCI World Tour cycling team, Philippe took to their Facebook page to issue a message in which he thanked friends and fans for all the words of sympathy and encouragement they've shared with him since the crash. He said: "I'm very grateful for all the messages I have received on my phone and social media, and also to all the riders who passed me and asked me how I was.

"I've got a lot of support from the cycling family and it's then that you see that it's really a nice sport. You appreciate it when you get support in hard moments like that."

The stretch of the race that Philippe fell at - the descent of Col de Portet d'Aspet - is notoriously difficult. Back in 1995, it claimed the life of Italian cyclist Fabio Casartelli when he crashed.

So, next time you think about claiming cycling isn't a sport, take a look at Philippe's image.