Crashes mar Sunshine Cup round four

Sabine Spitz (Central Ghost Pro Team) was seriously injured in round four of the Sunshine Cup

Sabine Spitz (Central Ghost Pro Team) was seriously injured in round four of the Sunshine Cup (Image credit: Armin M. Küstenbrück)

Two of the favorites for the women's race at the Sunshine Cup round four on Sunday suffered crashes, and both happened at the same place, albeit during different laps in the race.

On the first lap, Sabine Spitz, who was then leading the women's race, tried to pass a male rider that had started before her. In a gently descending, but fast section before the first downhill, she took a passing line which resulted in a bad crash. She went over her handlebars and landed on some stones with her back with abrasions to both her knees, arms and right elbow, and with fear of more serious injury, she withdrew from the race. Initial medical examinations found a lot of abrasions and contusions but no broken bones; however, she was scheduled to undergo further testing.

"Today ended in such a way I naturally had not imagined," she said after the initial shock of the crash wore off. "I felt actually quite good. As the rider in the men's field tried to hold me off, I was forced on to another line [to pass]. I only know that my front wheel washed out; everything happened so fast. For the moment, everything hurts and burns." Whether she will stick to her remaining program on Cyprus remains to be seen in the next few days. Her physiotherapist Volker Teubler said that Spitz was lucky and probably suffered no more serious injuries.

At the same spot on the final lap, Tereza Hurikova also went over her bars, but fortunately with less severe consequences. Having just been caught by eventual winner Petra Henzi, Hurikova tried to pass her back to be first on the following downhill. "With my pedal, I hit a stone and I hurtled over my handlebar. I think I was back on my bike fast, but Elisbeth Osl caught me," said Hurikova, who then used the last downhill to leave Osl behind on her way to second place with a margin of two seconds over Osl and 38 seconds behind Henzi.

Roel Paulissen won the men's race with a solo ride that lasted for the entire race. Czech racers Milan Spesny and Jaroslav Kulhavy finished second and third. Kulhavy and Christoph Soukup took turns trying to catch the powerful Paulissen, but each blew up just as he was about to make contact with the leader.

"The pace I took was too hard. So I had to recover," Kulhavy explained after the race.

Referring to the two failed attempts to catch him, Paulissen said, "So I had to ride the whole race without a companion. That was hard – just like the course." He finished 13 seconds ahead of a third chaser Spesny.

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