By Greg Johnson in Sydney, Australia
Sydney's cycling community was rattled when over 50 riders in a popular training group became victims of a hit-and-run crash this morning. The group included Australian Beijing Olympic Games hopeful Ben Kersten, former Olympian Michelle Ferris and Kate Nichols, one of the Australian Institute of Sport riders injured in the 2005 training accident that claimed the life of Amy Gillett.
Riders have expressed outrage at the actions of the erratic driver, which they described as being deliberate and premeditated. Nobody was seriously injured in the accident however the equipment damage bill is expected to run into the tens of thousands of dollars and has upset the run into Kersten's Olympic trials in two weeks time.
While traveling south - the opposite direction to the morning's city-bound traffic - on Southern Cross Drive, Mascot at 6:30 AM, a grey sedan approached the bunch and demonstrated erratic behaviour as it passed. Once ahead of the group, the sedan pulled in front of it and braked hard, forcing the group to slam into the vehicle travelling at over 50 km/h.
"It was intentional, I have no doubt about it," said Matt Bazzano of the incident. Bazzano, a highly experienced cyclist is an executive with Shimano Australia and former winner of the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic. "The fact is that after he did it, he (the driver) then took off, which he shouldn't have done. But then I wonder what could have happened had he stopped...you don't know what someone may do."
The crash caused traffic behind to take evasive action as riders spilled across the road, including a semi-trailer which jack-knifed under braking forces. The prime mover's driver skillfully brought the vehicle under control to avoid slamming into the fallen riders.
"I'm just glad nobody is dead," admitted Kersten, who was left with the imprint of a chain ring on his back. "I went flying through a group of about 20 people and 20 more hit me."
Bazzano, who's trained on the roads of Sydney for well over two decades, said it was the most extreme example of road rage he'd yet witnessed. "You'd have to go a long way to do worse than this," he said. "You know, things happen on the road and it can be accidental or careless, but this was intentional."
Kersten joined his fellow riders in saying the driver's actions were deliberate at a press conference called near the scene of the incident shortly after midday. "It's totally no accident, this guy is a psycho," he said.
Find out all the details about the horrible crash.