LottoNL-Jumbo rider George Bennett says he is lucky to be alive after being hit by a car on the eve of the Tour of the Alps.
The New Zealander finished seventh on the opening stage of the race on Monday, but revealed it could have been a very different story following an incident while he was out on a ride with his team-mate Koen Bouwman.
"I was going pretty fast on the time trial doing a recon for the Giro [d'Italia]," Bennett told Cyclingnews.
"I was riding fast and a car was coming the other way. It didn't see us, and it turned left across the road and I went straight into the side of him and I went over. Luckily I went over the car but I ripped the roof rack off with my knees.
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"I was really lucky with how it happened. I'm lucky to be alive I think. It could have been me in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I did a lot of thinking last night."
Bennett's accident came almost a year since the death of Italian rider Michele Scarponi, who was hit by a van after finishing fourth in the Tour of the Alps.
He added: "It is pretty close to the anniversary of Scarponi and that's pretty much what happened to him, and my friend Lowndsy [Jason Lowndes] died. It was a bit of a shock and this morning when I woke up I definitely knew that I'd been hit by a car.
"Generally, I'm fine. My left knee I was a bit worried about and my left arm. The good thing is, I'm sore everywhere but nothing is really bad. I'm very happy not just for this race but for the Giro, there were a few panicked staff at Lotto-Jumbo last night."