Quick-Step Floors riders Laurens De Plus and Petr Vakoc have been hospitalised after they were hit by a truck during a training ride in South Africa on Thursday. The pair was out with teammate Bob Jungels, who avoided injury.
According to a statement issued by the team, the two were hit by a truck from behind. Both conscious, the two riders were transported to hospital by team trainer Koen Pelgrim. De Plus received several abrasions and a minor pulmonary and kidney contusion as a result of the accident while Vakoc was diagnosed with several fractured vertebrae. He will undergo surgery on Friday.
"The three of us were out training, when suddenly I heard a loud noise and then in the following second I saw Laurens and Petr on the ground," Jungels said in the statement.
"I did not see the truck coming from behind, but it must have hit them with the left front mirror or even the front left part. I ran to them and could see they were injured, so I did not dare to move them. A lady who was on the side of the road came and helped us, calling the ambulance, while our trainer Koen and I talked with them. It was really tough to see them like that and I hope they will get over this difficult moment soon. I wish them a fast recovery."
Jungels, Vakoc and De Plus have been in South Africa for an altitude training camp over this last week. They had enjoyed a rest day in the Kruger National park on Wednesday before returning to training on Thursday. Jungels posted a picture of the three of them on social media during on Thursday evening, with the caption "brother's in arms".
For De Plus, this is the second major crash for him in just over three months after came down heavily on the descent of the Sormano while on the attack at Il Lombardia last October. The Belgian overcooked it on a corner and went off the road and into a ravine. Initial examinations did not reveal any serious injuries, but it was later revealed that he had fractured his kneecap as a result of the incident.
It is not yet clear how long either rider will be out of racing action, but Vakoc’s injuries will likely have an impact on his ambitions for the Ardennes Classics and could rule him out altogether.
For more of the Cyclingnews podcast, click here.