By Greg Johnson in Kuala Terengganu
A thrilling sprint finish to the Tour of Langkawi's Stage 4 was overshadowed by an alarming crash which saw two riders taken to hospital, with one confirmed to be sitting out the remaining stages. Française des Jeux rider Lilian Jegou and Azad University Team's Amir Zargari crashed heavily to the ground 60 metres from the finish line after making contact with one another as the 178 kilometre stage culminated in a bunch sprint.
SouthAustralia.com's Wesley Sulzberger was riding behind the pair during their coming together and, with no place to go, he was caught up in the accident. "It's just a normal sprint finish, it's chaos," explained the former Under 21 Australian road champion immediately after the incident. "A guy hit a wheel in front of me, then I hit a wheel and we were all down. It's just the way it is. Cuts and grazes is all I can feel at the moment, so I will be there tomorrow."
Lilian was taken immediately from the scene to the hospital after awkwardly falling into a spectator barrier. Française des Jeux officials have confirmed the rider will retire from the Tour, after he suffered a hairline fracture to his fourth finger in the crash.
Zargari, who also fell awkwardly, was treated at the scene for heavy grazing to his left thigh and knee before being placed on a stretcher and taken to hospital by ambulance. The Iranian's team is expected to announce overnight whether he will return to the race tomorrow.
While neither rider was available to comment on how the incident unfolded, UCI president Pat McQuaid was pleased with the speed at which the medical team acted. "You can't ask for any more than that," noted McQuaid, who witnessed the incident first hand while visiting the race as a guest of the organisers.