Russian rider Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha) has been forced to abandon the Tour de Langkawi with a broken collarbone, after he was blown off his bike by one of the race helicopters.
Kochetkov’s teammate Marco Haller took to Twitter after the stage to announce the incident: “teammate pavel kochetkov out with a broken collarbone. the deep flying helicopter blew him off the road. alle the best man! @katushacycling”
Kochetkov will return to his home in Brescia, Italy where he will have an operation on the break, team press officer Philippe Maertens confirmed to Cyclingnews. Due to complications with the break, the Russian will have to wait two weeks before he can have the operation.
The accident occurred around the 50 kilometre mark when Kochetkov chased down an attack from OCBC Singapore’s Ho Junrong.
Katusha team director Viatcheslav Ekimov witnessed the incident from his team car, saying that when the attack came, one of the race helicopters moved to the front of the peloton, although they are supposed to remain at the back. The team manager feared that there could be a major incident. While the peloton managed to escape harm, Ho got dust in his eyes, causing him to collide with Kochetkov and were sent to the ground.
The helicopter pilot has been removed from the race and Ekimov plans on making a complaint to the organisation.