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Vansummeren traumatized by Tour of Flanders collision

By:
Brecht Decaluwé
Published:
April 06, 2014, 21:56 BST,
Updated:
April 07, 2014, 10:34 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Monday, April 7, 2014
Race:
Tour of Flanders
Johan Vansummeren flies the flag for Garmin-Sharp

Johan Vansummeren flies the flag for Garmin-Sharp

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Female spectator in critical condition after being struck by Garmin rider

The 98th edition of the Tour of Flanders was marred by countless crashes, but the most troubling off all was the collision between Garmin-Sharp rider Johan Vansummeren and female spectator, who was in critical condition following the incident.

The crash happened at a roundabout after 60 kilometres of racing in Wielsbeke. The pace in the peloton was high, as they chased a group of 11 riders who had formed a breakaway. Where a traffic island split the road in two halves, video shows an older woman, a young boy and a man were standing on a raised island, and riders were passing the obstacle on both sides. Suddenly, Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) came crashing into the group, directly striking the older woman, knocking her into the ground.

The race organisation did not want to communicate much about the situation, stating only, "She is still in the intensive care unit in hospital. The organization regrets the accident and sympathizes with the family," in a press release.

At the time of publication it was known that she is 65-years-old. Her condition was reportedly critical but stable. During the race Sporza commentators said that she was undergoing brain surgery. It was not communicated where the woman was hospitalized, but the nearest hospital was in Waregem.

Vansummeren, the surprise winner of cycling’s biggest one-day race Paris-Roubaix in 2011, was briefly hospitalized, but by the time the race was over the tall Belgian was already back at the team bus with a stitched eye. "I’m alright despite a few stitches and a black eye. That’s really not important now. I got a massive scare," Vansummeren said. The 33-year-old was clearly emotional about what happened and didn't want to go into details.

"It’s a crash. How it happened? I don’t want to into detail," Vansummeren said. "It happened at a roundabout but what and how doesn't matter now. It only leads to talking about guilt and the only thing that matters now is that this woman gets better."

"I feel really bad that other people are affected. The fact that this lady got hurt bothers me much more than the crash. Crashes are part of cycling but it’s really sad for the family. I really hope she’ll be making progress," Vansummeren said. "I don’t know who she is. It was all very hectic. Maybe... during the upcoming days I’ll leave the family alone and then I’ll contact them."

When asked about the reason for the multiple crashes Vansummeren felt the several traffic inhibitors were to blame. "This is the top. There are a lot of spectators. It’s a hype. Twice or thrice a year riders head to a race with this tension. It’s all about small roads and riding at the front. Every year incidents happen. The biggest part of the problem is what they’re planting on the roads. There are more crashes but there’s much more junk on the road too."

"I don’t think I’ll find sleep tonight. It had to become a beautiful Sunday but it’s anything but that," Vansummeren concluded.

Garmin Sharp released a short statement on their Facebook page after the incident: "He {Vansummeren] suffered facial lacerations and has been released from the hospital. He, and we as a team, send our thoughts and best wishes to the spectator involved." the statement read.

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