Cannondale-Drapac apply concussion protocol after Skujins crash

Latvian pulled out by team through rules in place since 2011

Toms Skujins will face a minimum of six days away from racing and will only be allowed to return to training after passing a cognitive test, in line with the Cannondale-Drapac team’s internal concussion protocol, the team says.

The Latvian rider crashed on stage 2 of the Tour of California and broke his left collarbone, but got back to his feet and attempted to re-mount, clearly dazed as he staggered around in the middle of the road. Skujins was pulled from the race and taken to hospital in San Jose on Monday evening, where the collarbone fracture and concussion were confirmed.

“I’m feeling all right,” Skujins said after a medical evaluation. “I’m really bummed, of course. Besides that, I’m healthy. I’m good. We’ll assess with the team doctors and figure things out moving forward.

“Thank you to all the messages from my fans and my friends - but I won’t be able to answer them because I shouldn’t be looking at my phone.”

Concussion is an issue that has gained prominence in sport in recent years, notably in rugby and American Football, and cyclists such as Dominic Nerz and Nikki Brammeier have opened up about the serious effects of head impacts.

There were gasps as a neutral support official, who had arrived just as Skujins picked himself up off the tarmac, lined up the Latvian's bike and helped him re-mount and carry on. As messages of concern flooded in on social media, team CEO Jonathan Vaughters explained that there was limited TV and cell coverage in the race, but the message was soon passed onto the team car, which pulled up alongside the 25-year-old and coaxed him out of the race.

The team said they were taking Skuijins’ injury seriously, with their internal protocol drawing from the ‘return to play’ initiative seen in other sports, along with daily evaluations with the team’s medical staff. Taylor Phinney was subjected to similar protocols when he suffered a concussion following a heavy fall at the Tour of Flanders earlier this year. 

“Our internal concussion program is designed to slow things down and give the rider time to recover properly,” said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters.

“Concussion recovery varies from person to person and from day to day. We’ll evaluate Toms daily and he’ll need to pass a cognitive test before he returns to hard training or racing. His health is the most important thing to all of us.”

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