The crash on stage 1 involved half a dozen riders but those who were not able to start stage 2 due to their injuries were Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ), Damien Touzé (Cofidis), and Eduard Prades (Movistar).
After the entire peloton was out of action for close to five months because of the coronavirus pandemic, the four injured riders now face weeks, or in the case of Jakobsen, months of rehabilitation.
Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) and Neilson Powless (EF Pro Cycling) were also involved in the crash and sustained minor injuries but were able to start stage 2 from Opole to Zabrze on Thursday.
The incident happened during the final metres of stage 1 where Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) and Jakobsen were sprinting for the finish line in Katowice. Groenewegen deviated from his line towards the right-hand side of the road and Jakobsen crashed through the road-side barriers. Groenewegen lost control of his bike and crashed just after the finish line, as did several other riders.
Jakobsen suffered the worst of the crash and was airlifted to hospital in serious condition. He was placed in a medically-induced coma in the intensive care unit at the hospital in Sosnowiec.
Movistar Team confirmed that Prades sustained a fracture to one cervical vertebra along with a wound in his back, which required stitches. He also has pain in his ribs and the area around his right scapula.
After he was transported by ambulance to a nearby medical centre directly following the crash, Prades underwent radiological checkups that confirmed a small transverse fracture to his cervical vertebra C6.
Prades spent the night in hospital and was released on Thursday morning. He then travelled to the Movistar Team's headquarters in Pamplona and will undergo thorough tests in the upcoming days, according to a team press release.
Four weeks off for Touzé
Cofidis confirmed that Touzé sustained three fractures to his index finger on the right hand. He underwent a successful operation to correct the fractures on Wednesday night and was released from hospital on Thursday afternoon. He will travel back to France on Friday.
Following the crash, Touzé was treated by the race medical services and then transported to hospital with Cofidis team doctor Frédéric Maton, to undergo more in-depth examinations that confirmed the fractures. Cofidis estimated four weeks of recovery period before Touzé can return to racing.
“Obviously, it's difficult. After confinement, the long months of training hard, I was keen to have a good season. Everything went very quickly yesterday. I was focused on my sprint and as I approached the line I saw Jakobsen going into the barriers. One of them returned to the road and I couldn't avoid it. It fell on my hands, I hovered over the bike and then slipped on the asphalt," Touzé said.
"I had a big shock on my ribs and it took me a while to catch my breath. Then I was quickly taken care of and transferred to the hospital with the team doctor. The examinations found a triple open fracture of the index finger on the right hand. I was operated on immediately. Today it was still painful. But at the same time, I measure how lucky I am, that I have been rather spared compared to others. All my thoughts are with Jacobsen and his loved ones. I wish him a good recovery."
Sarreau with dislocated shoulder
Groupama-FDJ announced that Sarreau was also transported to a nearby hospital following the crash where medical staff confirmed an acromioclavicular (AC joint) dislocation and multiple road rash burns.
"I’m not doing too bad," Sarreau said in a press release. "I got back quite late from the hospital, around 1 a.m. I didn’t have the best night ever, but it was OK, I still managed to get some sleep. It feels good, but let’s hope the next few nights will be better. A shoulder injury is always painful, but given the crash’s speed and violence, I got by OK."
Sarreau said he was positioned directly behind Jakobsen and Groenewegen in the final sprint when the crash happened. He said he was initially able to veer to the left to avoid the crash but the road-side barrier moved out onto the road upon Jakobsen’s impact, which is what caused him to crash, too. "It was the barrier that caught me up afterwards," he said, noting that his power sensor recorded 81.7kph at peak sprint.
"I was a little stunned," Sarreau recalled about the moments after he crashed. "I immediately thought about protecting my head because I knew there were lots of riders coming and I was afraid they would hit me. After a few seconds, when I saw it was calmer, I tried to catch my breath and sit up. I couldn’t do it. I was a little stunned, but I did not lose consciousness. Then my first teammates arrived and I got up very slowly in order to recover. I felt I was in pain but I wasn’t sure where. I was then put in the ambulance and went to the hospital with the team doctor for a scan and X-rays.
"I would have preferred to race [stage 2] but I will suffer in silence and I think I will have time to come back before the end of the season, though I don’t know much about the recovery time yet. I obviously also think to Fabio Jakobsen today. We don’t wish that to anyone," Sarreau added.
No new updates on Jakobsen
The professional cyclists’ union, CPA, has issued an open letter to UCI President David Lappartient and Tour de Pologne Director Agata Lang calling for universal standards to be imposed for barriers at finish areas. The CPA also addressed the dangerous nature of the stage 1 sprint finish being held on a downhill into Katowice.
The UCI released a statement following the crash saying it condemned the behaviour of Groenewegen, who suffered a fractured collarbone in the incident, and that it has referred the matter to the Disciplinary Commission with a request to impose a sanction. The commissaires' panel at the Tour de Pologne disqualified Groenewegen from the race and fined him 500CHF. Jumbo-Visma and Groenewegen have released statements apologising for the incident.
Deceuninck-QuickStep released a medical update on Thursday morning confirming that Jakobsen remains in the intensive care unit and that he is in serious but stable condition after undergoing facial surgery lasting five and a half hours overnight. He remains in an induced coma, however, medics will begin to bring him out of a coma later in the day.
"His condition is serious. Fortunately, no vital organs have been hit, he is stable, but the next few hours are important. They are going to try to wake him up," team owner Patrick Lefevere told the Belga News Agency on Thursday.
A road-side official was also impacted by the crash and taken to hospital with head injuries, and is now confirmed to be in stable condition.
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.