The Team Sky rider had been hit from behind by a television motorbike after several riders had crashed at high speed three hundred metres after entering the Forest of Arenberg. A number of riders managed to brake and stop in time to avoid the riders on the ground and Viviani pulled up on the right side of the pave, next to the barriers.
He was then hit at speed by the motorbike carrying a pilot and a cameraman. He was thrown forward and hit on the chest and his hip.
Images of the crash immediately sparked questions about the positioning of the motorbike, such as why it was so close to the riders and failed to stop in time.
The tragic death of Wanty-Group Gobert rider Antoine Demoitié at Gent-Wevelgem sparked a serious debate about rider safety and the need for so many motorbikes in races. Following this latest incident, there were immediately calls for race organiser ASO to use only fixed cameras in key sectors of pave, like the Forest of Arenberg, to avoid other accidents and injuries to riders.
“It was a miracle. I was lucky, it could have been a lot worse,” Viviani told Gazzetta dello Sport after returning to the Team Sky hotel from hospital.
“The motorbike hit me from behind. I’d avoided the crash that involved Manuel Quinziato and I’d stopped on the right. Ten seconds later the motorbike hit me full on and I hit my chest on the barriers. I couldn’t breath for a couple of seconds and it hurts me when I breathe. I was scared at first but then I calmed down in the ambulance because I realised the pain wasn’t getting worse. I was ‘lucky’ to be hit from underneath by the motorbike (as it slid out) and not hit full on.”
“Looking at the video, I realise I was lucky. I don’t know how it happened, if the motorbike was too close or if he was distracted or going too fast. It could have been a lot worse.”
Injury and crash update
The crash in the Forest of Arenberg left several riders bloodied and injured but fortunately they were not seriously hurt. The official race medical bulletin listed 11 riders as being injured and in need of treatment during Paris-Roubaix.
Mitch Docker (Orica-GreenEdge) and Quinziato were two of the first riders to crash at speed. Docker’s face was covered in blood and looked dramatic. He reportedly lost six teeth but the Australian team later confirmed that he was not seriously injured. However the team on Monday revealed that he had broken his nose and had several lesions in his face and will stay in hospital in France for several days.
Quinziato also landed on his face but counted himself lucky.
“I crashed face down but fortunately thanks to the mud, I didn’t hurt myself,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Riders crashed in front of me and took us down. I’d left a gap but as soon as I tried to brake hard, I went down, it was if the pave was covered in soap. I was lucky that the motorbike crashed a few metres behind me.”
Also on the medical bulletin were Federico Zurlo, who hurt his right wrist and suffered a deep cut to a finger. Nikki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) hurt his right knee when he crashed as a consequences of Fabian Cancellara’s spill on the pave. His teammate Nikolas Maes was also taken to hospital after a crash. He hurt his right knee.
Movistar lost two riders in crashes: Nelson Oliveira hurt his shoulder and collarbone, and Fran Ventoso suffered a deep cut on his left knee that could have damaged his leg muscles. He needed surgery and tweeted he was going into the operating theatre on Monday ‘to have something done to his bodywork’.
— ELIA VIVIANI (@eliaviviani) April 10, 2016