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Groenewegen given nine-month ban for causing Jakobsen crash at Tour de Pologne

KATOWICE POLAND AUGUST 05 Sprint Arrival Dylan Groenewegen of The Netherlands and Team Jumbo Visma Fabio Jakobsen of The Netherlands and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Marc Sarreau of France and Team Groupama FDJ Ryan Gibbons of South Africa and NTT Pro Cycling Team Moreno Hofland of The Netherlands and Team EF Education First during the 77th Tour of Poland 2020 Stage 1 a 1958km stage from Silesian StadiumChorzw to SpodekKatowice TourdePologne tdp20 on August 05 2020 in Katowice Poland Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) has accepted a nine-month ban from the UCI for his part in the crash on stage 1 of the Tour de Pologne that left his fellow Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) with serious injuries.

Groenewegen was withdrawn from racing by his Jumbo-Visma team after he was expelled from the Tour de Pologne on August 5, and the UCI Disciplinary Commission has now suspended him until May 7, 2021.

The UCI and Jumbo-Visma announced Groenewegen's suspension in simultaneous statements released on Wednesday morning.

Jakobsen was placed in an induced coma after the life-threatening crash, which was sparked by Groenewegen’s deviation from his line during the downhill sprint finish in Katowice. Groenewegen’s manoeuvre forced Jakobsen into the barriers, which appeared to be inadequately tethered, and several other riders were brought down in the crash.

Jakobsen has since undergone multiple surgeries to facial injuries, which included severe damage to his jaw and teeth. He will undergo further surgery next year and hopes to resume training later this month and race again with Deceuninck-QuickStep.

"The rider collaborated with the investigation and accepted to serve a period of suspension until 7 May 2021, corresponding to a period of 9 months from the date of the incident," read the UCI statement

"The rider also accepted to take part in a number of events to the benefit of the cycling community."

Jumbo-Visma expressed relief that a decision had been rendered and confirmed that Groenewegen will remain with the team on his return to competition in 2021.

"It was a crash where the severity of the consequences was unfathomable. Now that the disciplinary case has been concluded, we can start looking forward again. We will do that together with Dylan," said manager Richard Plugge. 

"We are relieved that there is now perspective and clarity. We wish Fabio Jakobsen the same. The encouraging reports about his recovery do us good."

Groenwegen said: "The crash in the first stage of the Tour of Poland will forever be a black page in my career. During the sprint I deviated from my line. I am sorry, because I want to be a fair sprinter.

"The consequences were very unfortunate and serious. I am very aware of that and I hope this has been a wise lesson for every sprinter. I follow the news of Fabio’s recovery very closely. I can only hope that one day he will return completely.

"Closing the disciplinary matter creates clarity. That gives me the opportunity to look ahead again. I am happy about that, even though May 7th is still far away. I am happy with the support I get from Team Jumbo-Visma, my family and friends. Together we will work towards that day both mentally and physically."

In the wake of the crash, the CPA called for an investigation into the circumstances of the incident. 

The riders' association criticised the Tour de Pologne organisation’s decision to hold a bunch sprint on a downhill section of road as well as the apparent shortcomings in the barriers placed along the roadside. 

The UCI later pledged to introduce "far-reaching reform of the safety conditions," though the governing body avoided specific criticism of the Tour de Pologne.

Robbie McEwen told Cyclingnews in August that he had lobbied the UCI during his professional career to introduce a standard, metal barrier for race finishes that would help to deflect falling riders back onto the road.

"The barriers in Poland flew every which way, and it looked to me like they were made of plastic," McEwen said. "One of them broke into pieces and that doesn’t happen with the metal ones. There’s a lot to be done in regard to safety in the last few hundred metres."