Dimension Data continental rider Keagan Girdlestone is in a critical condition after an accident during the Italian Coppa della Pace race. In light of the serious nature of the incident, the race was immediately cancelled and the riders and cars immediately directed to the finish.
Initial reports on social media claimed Girdlestone had died, but a post on his father's Facebook page said he was in hospital in a critical condition.
"Keagan has been in an accident and is currently in theatre in a critical but stable condition," the post read. "Your prayers for his strength and for him to continue fighting would be appreciated. What is on social media is not factual so please keep him in your prayers as he is a fighter."
The exact details of the incident haven’t been confirmed but, according to Tuttobiciweb, Girdlestone – who finished fourth in the junior men’s time trial at last year’s World Championships - crashed twice on a descent. The second crash reportedly happened when Girdlestone was in the team vehicles, and he collided with the back of one of them. According to the organisers, an investigation into the crash has been opened.
"The accident occurred when there were four laps to go,” joint race director Raffaele Babini told Tuttobiciweb. “We had covered 105km of racing. It was 16.20. The boy had fallen into a downhill section and was a strong recovery to return to the group. Apparently, after the first time, which was in the vicinity of a hill, a team car has slowed sharply and the guy, who was at full speed, crashed violently against the car, breaking through the rear window of the car, getting serious facial injuries. I cannot say more because they are still under investigation by the security forces.”
Cyclingnews contacted the team, but they were not available to comment.
Girdlestone is just 19 years of age and joined the newly formed Dimension Data continental team for this season. The team was set up over the winter by the WorldTour squad of the same name to give African riders an opportunity to race in Europe. The Coppa della Pace was Girdlestone’s second race in Europe after competing at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.