Tour Divide experiences first fatality

Vermont racer passes away after collision with vehicle

While racing the Tour Divide, a trans-continental mountain bike race from Banff, Alberta, Canada, to the US - Mexican border, David Blumenthal was hit by a vehicle and died. It was the 2,745-mile race's first fatality in its seven years running.

The 37-year-old resident of Montpelier, Vermont, ran into a truck coming toward him on an unpaved road. After a brief visit to a local hospital following the accident, he was transported to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, Colorado, where he died last Thursday, according to TimesArgus.com. The racer was on the course near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, when the accident happened.

"What happened was they were on a narrow mountain dirt road, and he was riding in the opposite lane and collided with the side of a pick-up (truck) that was coming in the opposite direction on a curve," said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Matthew Velasquez to the Times Argus.

Based on where the bike, the rider and the pick-up ended up, the officer concluded that the driver of the vehicle was not at fault.

"Dave sustained terminal head injuries," said Tour Divide organizer and participant Matthew Lee to Cyclingnews. "He probably didn't suffer."

Although ambulance crews made it to Blumenthal within 20 or 30 minutes and then transported Blumenthal to a hospital, it was not enough to save his life.

"I didn't know Dave other than that we corresponded by email periodically," said Lee to Cyclingnews. "He was a very bright, creative guy, and all who rode with him during the first half of the race talk about how he animated their days."

Blumenthal was a passionate outdoorsman, who undertook other endurance adventures. He through-hiked Vermont's Long Trail in 2000 and the Pacific Crest Trail with his wife in 2004.

Multi-time race winner Lee, who was leading the race at the time of incident, decided to continue his after some deliberation, but dedicated his performance to the fallen rider.

"Having just come off the route myself, I'm not sure I am able to fully put his death into a real world perspective yet," said Lee to Cyclingnews hours after winning the 2010 edition. "The effect it had on me during the race was to heighten my own already heightened emotions about everything.

"I cried out of the blue a lot. I grieved for his family even as I missed my own all the more," said Lee. "Dave's loss absolutely is tragic."

Blumenthal, a Harvard graduate, leaves behind a wife Lexi Shear and young daughter Linnaea. To read his final blog entry, visit type2fun.wordpress.com.

According to the Tour Divide's website, "Dave's family would like to thank the Tour Divide community for their thoughts and support through this tragedy. They ask that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his memory to the Green Mountain Club." Letters of condolences can be sent to lexi.shear [@t] post.harvard.edu.

Cyclingnews extends its condolences to the family and friends of David Blumenthal.

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