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    Tour de France 2015: Top Banana - stage 13

    After his lionhearted reaction to a heavy crash, hero Péraud gets the fruit

    Andy McGrath
Racing cyclist, bloodied arms and face, Tour de France 2015, stage 13, Jean-Christophe Peraud

It has not been a good Tour de France for Jean-Christophe Péraud.

His own doubts about form before the race were proved right: after the Pyrenees, he sat 30th, 42 minutes down and a shadow of the strong, sprightly man who finished runner-up last year.

Sixty kilometres from the finish on a scorching day through the Tarn and Aveyron, his race went from bad to worse.

Having just made the right side of a bunch fracturing in crosswinds, he touched a wheel and hit the deck like a crash dummy being pushed out of a car.

It hurt just to watch: the Frenchman grated his left side, banged up his wrist, shoulder and elbow and tore his shorts badly.

He was left three minutes in arrears, getting patched up by race doctor Florence Pommerie. Faced with a long chase in the canciular heat, in the context of his crummy Tour and that heavy fall, nobody would have begrudged him throwing in the towel.

Give up? Not Péraud. He fought back to the bunch and picked up bottles for his team-mates on the way through the convoy: absurd selflessness, akin to a man breaking his arm in an innocuous bar fall and insisting on buying drinks for all his mates before brushing it off as just a scratch.

“Jicé” is a man loath to quitting the Tour. During the 2012 edition, when his baby daughter was born unexpectedly early at the end of the second week, he caught a helicopter 200 kilometres across France post-stage to see the newborn and was back at his team hotel for a bit of a shuteye and the next stage by the early hours.

Péraud only abandons when he absolutely cannot go on. A year later, while sat in the top 10 overall, he cracked his collarbone while doing a recon of a tricky time-trial course. Nevertheless, Ag2r-La Mondiale's leader still took the start, riding strongly until a heavy crash forced him to leave the Tour in agony.

In a Tour where there are plenty of fighting performances, his never-say-die spirit really caught the eye. Péraud rhymes with hero, doesn’t it? He's got a few restless nights, with road rash sticking to the sheets, and days of suffering to come, but an unlikely stage win in the Alps would be extremely popular. 



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