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Series of cyclist-car crashes claim three lives and multiple injuries

Susan Westemeyer
February 12, 2013, 03:08,
February 12, 2013, 10:10
First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) on the podium to receive the King of the Mountains prize.

Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) on the podium to receive the King of the Mountains prize.

  • Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) on the podium to receive the King of the Mountains prize.
  • Burry Stander and his wife Cherise
  • Bram  Tankink (Blanco) has been riding well since his season debut at Tour Down Under
  • Inaki Lejarreta sets the pace

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Spain leads the list with five incidents including two fatalities

Training on the road has always come with a risk for cyclists, but lately things have taken a turn for the worse. There have been at least nine incidents of riders being hit by cars whilst training since the middle of September, with three riders being killed.

The incidents have occurred around the world, from the United States to the United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa and Spain. The latter can claim five crashes, including the ones which led to the death of Euskaltel's Victor Cabedo and mountain biker Iñaki Lejarreta.

Injuries have ranged from Mark Cavendish' bruised arm to Johnny Hoogerland's fractured ribs and vertebrae.

The sad string of crashes started in September, when Cabedo died after being colliding with a vehicle and fell into a roadside ravine.

Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) was the first to be hit in the off-season, suffering a broken rib when hit by a car near his home in Lancashire. the beginning of November. Shortly thereafter his then-teammate Mark Cavendish ran into the back of a car which braked suddenly, leaving the former World Champion with a bruised arm.

The next month, Andy Jacques-Maynes was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in California, suffering a broken shoulder blade and a suspected broken collarbone.  Only days insult was added to injury as he was told he would not receive a contract for the 2013 season.

Things unfortunately then took a deadly turn. Lejarreta, a former junior MTB world champion and one of Spain's leading mountainbikers, was hit by a car in the Basque town of Iuretta. Rescue workers were unable to save the 29-year-old, whose wife gave birth to the couple's first child the next month.

Only weeks later, fellow mountain biker Burry Stander died after being hit by a taxi whilst training in South Africa. He died on the scene after the taxi turned in front of him. The popular rider had married another cyclist, Cherise Stander, in 2012, and he was publicly mourned.

Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) suffered the most serious non-fatal injuries of the riders.  As with so many others, an auto turned in front of him without seeing the cyclist. He suffered five broken ribs, broken vertebrae and a bruised liver, spending time in intensive care in Spain.

Fellow Dutch rider Bram Tankink also had back luck with a Spanish driver. The Blanco rider was out with a group of teammates “when a car didn't stop for the riders. Bram Tankink hit the car and broke his left collarbone,” the team said.

The accidents cross all disciplines, as the most recent victim was track para-cyclist Jody Cundy, also on Mallorca. The World Champion was training with Czech para-cyclist Jiri Jezek when “I got knocked off my bike when I overtook a car that indicated one way and then decided to change his mind as I was coming past,” he tweeted. “Thankfully I’m in one piece, a few cuts to my knee and bruised the pad of my palm.”

Another incident in November involved not a cyclist but head of the GB Cycling Team Shane Sutton. Less than 24 hours after Wiggins' accident, Sutton, 55, was hit by a car whilst riding on the road. He spent time in hospital after being diagnosed with bleeding on the brain.

There were of course various car-rider incidents during the 2012 season as well, with the most dramatic probably involving Tony Martin. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider was finishing up a training ride when a car moved into the bike lane, leaving him with “the left half of my face totally smashed.”

He was diagnosed with a fractured cheekbone, jaw, eye socket, shoulder blade and upper arm, but did not need surgery. He was surprisingly able to return to racing within a few weeks and went on to have a successful season, including the World time trial title.

DaoMandrake More than 1 year ago
Interesting ! Any doping story on Cycling News gets dozens, if not hundreds, of bitter and angry replies. Yet none of us are directly affected by what a pro cyclist chooses to do with his body, even decades ago. The level of anger, hatred and venom really shocks me.....I raced against some of these guys, I was probably cheated out of wins by dopers. So what ? But a story about the carnage on the roads, which directly affects every cyclist reading this, goes ignored. I have been cycling for 27 years, all over the world. I've lost a dozen friends to careless drivers. The above story is horrific. Where are all the comments ? Is what a pro cyclist took, or didn't take, a decade or two ago, so important ? Isn't the death and injury of our friends and team mates just as important ? Maybe the 'enemy', if there is one, is the driver who doesn't care, rather than the cyclist who takes epo ? If you have to hate, hate the way we are being killed on the roads.
junkie More than 1 year ago
Yeah, right, only pro riders are affected. And amateur cyclists are not dying on the roads around the world. So pros can juice themselves up because the real enemy is the careless driver. Cool story.
Limehouse More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry to hear about your friends. Many of us, myself included, have had friends and/or family that have been killed or seriously injured on the roads. But what has doping got to do with that? This is not a mutually exclusive thing. Why can't both issues be important? Maybe some people care about 1 but not the other, and some care about both and some care about none. Just because one thing is important doesn't mean everything else is not. And speaking of hate, bitterness and anger - physician heal thyself.
Tangled Tango More than 1 year ago
I have thought about this subject a lot as I have been riding the roads of Spain since moving here over 10 yrs ago. I ride differently than when I lived in New York City, where commuting was the norm and speeding along with the manic nyc traffic was common place. There were close calls every day, accidents and sometimes a death. Here in Spain I don´t think it is the drivers that bring the statistics higher than Spain´s neighboring countries. The fact is most professionals choose Spain to train in. The south, Mallorca, the Canaries Islands. So there are more pros riding in Spain during the off season than most other countries in Europe. The most obvious explanation to me why professional cyclists have so many accidents while training is they do not ride defensively at all and that is a big problem when sharing the road. Sure some of these accidents are definitely the drivers fault, but if you are a cyclists and you ride knowing that you cannot trust any driver to drive correctly, you can avoid most dangerous situations. The circumstances are all different, but when I read that a cyclist crashed while descending and a car pulled out of a driveway, I wonder if it was one, the other or the fault of both driver and cyclist. Or Cavendish crashing into a car when it braked suddenly. Was he riding too close? I am not blaming us cyclists for causing these accidents. But I do think we can do a lot to help avoid many of them. I have learned not to trust drivers signals, not to trust them to turn or do what they are supposed to do. In this way I am prepared for the worst. The pros don´t ride like that. When they descend a mtn, they go too fast to correct for any drivers odd behavior. Mallorca is the most biker friendly place I have ever experienced. But even there we hear about recorded accidents. I don´t know the circumstances of how they occured, but I imagine they are not 100% crazy driver related. We cyclists have a role to play in keeping ourselves safe on the road. We can´t expect drivers in cars to think of us with any more care of respect than they do a stray dog or cat. We must expect them to do the worst. We must ride defensively and when at all possible, offer road courtesy. I always think helping a car pass me on a curvy road, or moving farther over on a shoulder and waving a car to pass will help a little when they next encounter a biker on the road. Everywhere in the world there are crazy dangerous drivers full of road rage against cyclist. There are also bad drivers who don´t signal, pass too close, drive too fast, turn or manauver their cars as if drunk. There are any manner of ways that drivers make the public roads dangerous for cyclists. For all those reasons, we must always expect the worst and behave our best. We can never expect the roads to be a safe place for us and our bikes. But we can make it a little safer by not taking chances and by keeping our eyes open for the slightest unexpected move from a car.
atriage More than 1 year ago
Jesus from Cancun More than 1 year ago
I have to totally agree with you. I raced for 16 years. Never got hit by a car. My friends called me Grandpa and made jokes about my ways. I was the one always looking behind, yelling to let a car pass, signaling cars behind when it was safe to overtake our group, taking the front of the group before an intersection and slowing down to make everyone slow down too. I got a few close calls. But I rode for years in Mexico City, Havana, LA/SF Valley area, Quito, and many other cyclist-frightening areas, and I was extremely lucky to have never been touched by a vehicle. Unfortunately, I have seen friends die on the road. With all respect to them and whomever is missing them, each of them were the kind of riders who didn't care at all about the drivers who behind them needed to get somewhere in time. I know we all want to ride like the pro race pictures and videos we watch. But they have closed roads; we need to share the road with vehicles that weight 200 times as much as we do. We have everything to lose when we play with traffic in an open road. Be all careful out there.
kingkeirin More than 1 year ago
A very real danger that has made me slowly drift from road riding, to mountain biking, is drivers texting here in the states. So many times when you hear of a cycling accident here, they usually note that the driver was texting at that time. It usually is a side swiping accident or a hit from behind accident. I was behind a girl once, on a road that is known in the area for cyclist training and riding, and in order to avoid getting herself killed by a head on collision with a another car, she just erred on drifting over into the cyclist lane. I guess she was of the mind that, "Well a cyclist may get killed but at least I'll be ok. And most importantly, my text conversation won't get interrupted. Your life for my social fun. Yeah..... I think that's a fair trade." Many times I think cyclists are viewed as an "object" in the road. Not a "person." If people hit us - oh well. We don't have families or loved ones waiting to see us when we get home......... But they sure do, cause they're in a car. End of rant.
tokenron More than 1 year ago
Let's say 20% of the road-going population have an overblown opinion of themselves and of their "right" to get where they are going without interruption. That's a 1 in 5 chance that the rider in your windscreen is likely to do something unexpected, and a 1 in 5 chance that the car that you can hear but can't see behind you is going to do something dangerous. The difference is that in 99% of cases the rider is the one who is killed or maimed. That's why when I'm riding I ALWAYS go out of my way not to be that 1 out of 5, and ALWAYS assume that the guy or girl driving the car that is about to pass me or pull out in front of me is.
Joe Chase More than 1 year ago
This is always sad news. Take a second to look at the story of twin brothers Ricardo and Jaiver Oxtoa from Kelme in 2001, really tragic.