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Former Tdf champ Joop Zoetemelk: ‘I have aged 10 years in a few months’

Cycling legend struggling to recover from being hit by a driver

Photo by: Sirotti

In September 2020, former Tour de France winner Joop Zoetemelk was hit by a car while on a bike ride just outside Paris region. He was hospitalized for several days, receiving surgery on his left arm and right hand.

Zoetemelk was a dominant force in the ‘70s and ’80s, and won the world professional road championship in 1985 at the age of 38, with a late attack surprising the favorites of Greg LeMond, Stephen Roche, Moreno Argentin and Robert Millar. To this day he is the oldest pro world road champion.

A year later, the  Dutch cycling hero finds himself still trying to recover from the collision. “The accident damaged my nerves in my injured arm. I feel tingling in my fingers and I have almost no strength in my hands,” Zoetemelk said. “My condition was excellent until the accident, but there is not much left now. Life is very hard for me right now. My body doesn’t want it anymore, I’m still suffering the consequences of this accident. I’ve always been optimistic, but now I have to realistically face the fact that I had to take a big step backwards.”