Unprotected post in Vuelta a Espana stage 5 finale raises hackles

Kruijswijk injured, Vuelta organisers apologise, say protection was planned

In a near-repeat of the 2015 Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo) crashed into a short unprotected traffic bollard in the road in the final kilometers of stage 5 of the Vuelta a España. Race organisers were quick to issue an apology and state that they intended for riders to be warned of the obstacle.

Kruijswijk confirmed the post was responsible for his crash. He sustained a broken collarbone and was forced to abandon.

"My ribs and collarbone hurt a lot," Kruijswijk said. "I crashed heavily into that pole. It's terrible that I have to leave this race because of an object that shouldn't have been there. I'm going home immediately tomorrow. This was, after the Giro d'Italia, my second big target and I'm really fed up about the way I'm leaving this Vuelta."

In 2015, a similar bollard was responsible for sparking a crash in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco that left Peter Stetina and Sergio Pardilla seriously injured.

The Vuelta organisers issued a communique saying "following the accident which occurred to Steven Kruijswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) and Jan Bakelants (AG2R La Mondiale) the Vuelta organisation enormously regrets what has happened.

"The accident came about because of an obstacle in the road. An internal investigation has been opened to find out why the obstacle which finally produced the riders' crash and subsequent abandon of Stephen Kruijswijk was not indicated and warned about, as had been planned.

"The organisation has been in touch with the directors of both teams as well as the general manager of LottoNL-Jumbo to transmit their most sincere apologies, as well as maintaining contact with the rider's representative, the head of the UCI commissaires on the race and the representative of the teams organisation."

The UCI last year said it took the Basque Tour incident "very seriously" and promised to investigate how the post was allowed to remain in the finishing straight unprotected with no signalmen warning riders around it.

The riders' association, the CPA, has been trying to get the UCI to adopt new, stricter standards for races, including more explicit regulations for the final kilometers and requirements for multiple inspections of the course before riders arrive.

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