brian holm of denmark sports director and team quickstep floors of picture  ffebfdb1 65a9 4e6e bbf3 e2fb1497186b

Philippe Gilbert Rode 35 Miles of the Tour de France With a Broken Kneecap

There's gutsy, and then there's this.

Things were looking good for Philippe Gilbert. The 36-year-old Belgian, a member of Team Quick-Step Floors, was in the lead with approximately 57 kilometers remaining in stage 16's mountainous route through the French Alps. Then, in an instant, Gilbert lost control on a corner during a descent, smashing violently into a stone wall and flipping into the woods roughly six feet below. What happened next is nothing short of remarkable.

SCARY SCENE Tim de Waele/Getty Images SCARY SCENE When Getty Images' veteran cycling photographer Tim de Waele arrived shortly after the crash, he saw the bike but no sign of Gilbert. "I approached the wall fearing the worst," de Waele told FOTO. "When I saw him alive, then get to his feet, it was a huge relief. As a photographer, it's always a difficult balance of getting the picture first or reaching out a helping hand." HELPED OUT Tim de Waele/Getty Images HELPED OUT Course staffers come to the rescue, helping Gilbert to his feet and lifting him from the woods. MEDICAL ATTENTION Tim de Waele/Getty Images MEDICAL ATTENTION Gilbert, bleeding from his left knee and elbow, is checked by doctors before being cleared to return to the race. Tests would later reveal that he suffered a fractured kneecap.

Other Stories For You

FIGHTING THROUGH MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images FIGHTING THROUGH Back on his bike, the adrenaline-fueled Belgian managed to gut out the remaining 57km (35 miles), crossing the stage 16 finish line in Bagnères-de-Luchon in 142nd place. WARM EMBRACE Tim de Waele/Getty Images WARM EMBRACE An emotional Gilbert is greeted at the finish by stage winner and teammate Julian Alaphilippe of France. STANDING TALL JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images STANDING TALL In recognition of his courage and resilience, Gilbert is presented with the 'most combative rider of the stage' award.
Cycling: 105th Tour de France 2018 / Stage 16
Cycling: 105th Tour de France 2018 / Stage 16
Justin Setterfield; Tim de Waele/Getty Images PAINFUL TRUTH Chris Graythen/Getty Images PAINFUL TRUTH Bandages can't hide Gilbert's blood-soaked sock and battered left knee. OUT OF ACTION Justin Setterfield/Getty Images OUT OF ACTION The injured Belgian is helped to a waiting ambulance before being taken to a hospital in Toulouse. Team Quick-Step later announced that he would have to withdraw from the race.

For more FOTO stories directly in your inbox, sign up for our free weekly newsletter.