Giant Alpecin have confirmed that four of the riders involved in Saturday’s training accident will return home. However, the team have also told Cyclingnews that they may be forced to skip races over the coming months, and that it is unlikely – although not certain – that John Degenkolb will miss the Classics.
The German rider, along with Warren Barguil, Chad Haga, Fredrik Ludvigsson, Ramon Sinkeldam and Max Walscheid, was involved in a head-on collision with a car while training in Calpe, Spain on Saturday.
All six were rushed to hospital with Haga and Degenkolb suffering the most severe injuries. Degenkolb suffered a serious hand injury, confirming later on Facebook that the end of a finger had almost been entirely severed. The team confirmed that Degenkolb had a successful surgery on a cut to his upper leg.
Haga was airlifted to hospital, suffering from neck and facial injuries. The team said he had successful surgery on his neck and chin wounds. Haga also has an orbital fracture that will be treated later.
Just over 24 hours after the accident, team manager Iwan Spekenbrink told Cyclingnews, that “riders are already on their way home for treatments and examinations. It was terrible what happened and today was about grouping together and processing what happened."
Haga and Degenkolb will remain in hospital and Spekenbrink is aware that the team have been dealt a huge blow from a racing standpoint. The 27-man team were already short of numbers with Tom Veelers and Nikias Arndt both on the treatment table with pre-existing injuries. With such a busy race schedule on the horizon the team may be forced to pull their team from certain races, although Spekenbrink told Cyclingnews that it was too early to speculate or confirm the squad’s plans.
“We know that we will be set back for some months with the team in terms of sport but that’s the second priority," he said, pointing to the fact that his first concern was for the health of his riders.
“In the coming days we’ll start working on re-planning things but it will take some time before we’re at our full strength again. We have a strong spirit and we’ll get out of this stronger.
“You always have one or two who are injured but now we have these six on top of that. You would guess that we have to reschedule and maybe skip some races, which would seem like the first logical consequences, but to be totally honest we’ve not worked on that today. Today we’ve tried to be there for everyone.”
The team could enter the transfer market in a bid to ease their short-term troubles but Spekenbrink hinted that the team would not yet consider such a move.
“In the coming days we’ll start to plan. So for now I can’t say about new riders or skipping races. For sure we have to re-plan. We have been set back by months but that’s work for the next few days.
“The disadvantages in that is you would be signing riders for just a few months. First we will wait and then we’ll make a plan.”
Of the six that were involved in Saturday’s accident, Ludvigsson and Sinkeldam are expected to return the quickest but they will still be out of action for weeks.
“The rest will take a bit longer. They will need longer recovery times but they will be healthy,” Spekenbrink said.
Degenkolb's immediate future will see him return to Germany for further treatment on his hand. He has already undergone a round of surgery and while at this moment in time it looks likely that he will miss this year’s spring Classics, Spekenbrink would not rule any scenario out.
“It’s too early to say that but it’s realistic to say that it won’t happen. It’s too early to give final information on that. Our focus today wasn’t on any race or the Classics, it was about being a family, like we have been since 2008. We want everyone to get back on track and we want to help them get over this.”
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