Yesterday’s Tour of Flanders was one of the most exciting races we’ve had so far this year, but it was overshadowed by the large amount of crashes. One crash in particular saw Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) hit an elderly spectator.
Cyclingnews spoke to Garmin-Sharp directeur sportif Geert van Bondt this morning, who said that Vansummeren is making a slow but steady recovery, but was unable to shed any light on the lady’s condition. “He went for a short ride this morning, only for an hour or so. It is not good to lock yourself at home. It was good for him to get out of the house. His legs are ok, he only has some bruising. It is just his neck that is sore,” he explained.
“He is more concerned with the accident and how the lady is doing. We are seeing it in the news. If we had a number then we would contact her family to see how she is doing, but we can only follow it on the news.”
It is unclear how the incident happened, but TV images show Vansummeren riding into shot and colliding with the woman at high speed. There were unnerving scenes as they lay in the middle of the road and both fan and rider were rushed to hospital, where the woman was reportedly put into an induced coma - although these reports are unconfirmed. There were worries that Vansummeren may have suffered a serious eye injury, however, he escaped with some cuts and bruises only.
For Vansummeren, the mental after effects have been worse than the physical, and the team are reluctant to press him for the details. “When he came back to the bus, I spoke to him for about five minutes. He was very emotional so I didn’t really talk to him about how or why the accident happened,” van Bondt told Cyclingnews.
“He made a statement to the police and then we sent him home. I spoke to him for a little bit this morning, but we didn’t talk about how it happened. You can see the images on TV, but I can’t really say how it happened.”
Rumours have spread about potential ramifications for the rider and organisers. Earlier today, Belgian sport channel Sporza reported that Vansummeren could face a legal case if he is found to be at fault. However, Garmin denied that any such action had been brought to their attention. “I read about it on the internet. We have spoken to the police, but that is normal in Belgium when there has been a big accident and there is a victim. It is nothing against Johan,” sad van Bondt. “We have had no indication that Johan will have any legal proceedings against him.”
Vansummeren has been sent home to be with his family for the time being. He is due to ride Paris-Roubaix at the weekend, where he took a surprise victory in 2011. The Belgian would be a key part of the team with his plentiful experience at the classic. It is unclear if he will be able to compete on Sunday.
“We will have to wait and see. Like I said, his legs are ok there is just some cuts and bruises, he is just stiff from the accident,” said van Bondt. “He has done a ride, but he is still suffering mentally from the accident. We will have to see how those two things come together and see how he is.”