The vision of Garmin Sharp's Jack Bauer lying motionless on the side of the road at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday was frightening but as the race was reaching its conclusion in Waregem, the New Zealander was already back in the team bus following a visit to hospital.
With just under 60km left to race, Bauer along with Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), both within the main peloton, crashed on a narrow section of the Eikenberg. While Smukulis began picking himself up, Bauer took the impact on the side of his head and was lying on the ground next to some snow, still clipped in to his pedals and not appearing to move.
"We were pretty scared in the car when we saw he was injured," Garmin Sharp directeur sportif Geert Van Bondt told Cyclingnews.
"There was a lot of dirt on the road," he explained. "I know the corner because I live there and I know how dangerous it is. With the dirt you can do nothing. I guess he slipped or somebody crashed before him. We also had no information we just saw him lying there. I think it was a pretty nasty crash. You also have the descent so you go 50 or 60km/h."
The Eikenberg was also the site of the crash that claimed Bauer's teammate David Millar at the E3 Harelbeke in 2012, albeit Wednesday's accident occurred on a different road, around 2km away.
Bauer was transported to hospital in Oudenaarde but was soon released with team doctor Kevin Sprouse then observing the 27-year-old back in the team bus. Sprouse told Cyclingnews that Bauer had a good recollection of the events leading up to and after the incident, despite having been briefly unconscious.
"It's a very good sign," he explained. "He's in great spirits, the doctors at the hospital saw him and released him fairly quickly, convinced that he's doing really well... It all looks very good considering how dramatic it looked on TV."
Despite the brief period of unconsciousness, Sprouse said that it was difficult to determine whether Bauer was suffering any ill-effects in the aftermath in the form of concussion.
"That is a difficult diagnosis to make quickly," he said. "We actually don't distinguish between mild, moderate, and severe concussions anymore - it's either you have one or not and the symptoms can develop 24 hours later so it's kind of an observational period at this point. He doesn't show any signs of concussion but that can certainly change as the adrenaline wears off and he gets back. Should he develop any symptoms we'll monitor for those.
"All in all, so far so good."
UPDATE: Team doctor Kevin Sprouse later told Cyclingnews that Bauer indeed sustained a concussion from today's crash:
"He has been examined by the team medical staff and has been determined to have sustained a concussion as a consequence of his head injury and loss of consciousness," said Sprouse. "He is doing well, is in good spirits, and is being monitored by the team staff. As per international medical guidelines, he will be progressed through the team's protocol with regard to his return to competition."
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