Bob Jungels has made an impassioned plea for people to share the road after two of his Quick-Step Floors teammates were hospitalised when they were hit by a truck while out training. In a short video posted on YouTube over the weekend, Jungels asked for all road users to take care so that “nobody ever has to experience what I had to experience two days ago with my two teammates.”
Jungels was on an altitude training camp in South Africa last week with Laurens De Plus and Petr Vakoc. Following a rest day on Wednesday, the trio returned to training on Thursday when they were hit from behind by a truck trying to overtake them. He said that, despite the incident, he didn’t regret the decision to train in South Africa.
“I want to say that coming to South Africa was absolutely the right decision. It’s a wonderful country, people are very kind and drivers were very respectful, before this incident,” Jungels said, before going on to describe the chaos in the aftermath of the crash.
“From one moment to the other, you can have a laugh with your best buddy and the next second, you’re running around screaming, you don’t know what to do and asking for help and shouting. Afterwards, you have him in your arms and you don’t know if he’s ever going to be able to perform cycling again, walk again or whatever. In the end, everything turned out quite positive regarding the case.”
Both De Plus and Vakoc were taken to hospital, with further examinations clearing De Plus of any serious injuries. Vakoc was not so lucky and was diagnosed with broken vertebrae. He underwent a successful surgery on Friday but will have to stay in hospital for 10 days before he can return to Europe. He tweeted on Sunday that he was currently without pain and had his family with him in South Africa.
Jungels finished his video by asking people to be more considerate out on the road, particularly considering the inherent vulnerability of cyclists. He said that while cyclists may not always follow rules of the road, caution must still be taken.
“It’s very unfortunate that it has to come to such a situation to wake up. I think there are a lot of things that are being done about security of cyclists on the road, [but] we are definitely the most vulnerable subjects on the road, compared to a truck or a car, or even a motorbike. We don’t have a chassis around us that protects us. That’s something I think all the people should consider. If it’s worth the one or two minutes that you lose passing us…
“I’m not saying that we cyclists do everything right. Often, we take up too much of the road or we don’t respect the rules, which is fair enough to say. That isn’t alright either. The message here is that I hope that nobody ever has to experience what I had to experience two days ago with my two teammates. I really strongly advise sharing the road together.”
There have been a large number of major incidents in recent years with riders being hit by vehicles. Last April, Michele Scarponi was killed while out on a training ride near his home in Italy, while Jason Lowndes died after being hit by a car in December. In 2016, several of the Giant-Alpecin team were hospitalised when a car driving on the wrong side of the road hit them head-on. Jens Keukeleire, Aude Biannic and Molly Weaver were also hit by cars during training rides last year.