Series of cyclist-car crashes claim three lives and multiple injuries

Training on the road has always come with a risk for cyclists, but lately things have taken a turn for the worse. There have been at least nine incidents of riders being hit by cars whilst training since the middle of September, with three riders being killed.

The incidents have occurred around the world, from the United States to the United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa and Spain. The latter can claim five crashes, including the ones which led to the death of Euskaltel's Victor Cabedo and mountain biker Iñaki Lejarreta.

Injuries have ranged from Mark Cavendish' bruised arm to Johnny Hoogerland's fractured ribs and vertebrae.

The sad string of crashes started in September, when Cabedo died after being colliding with a vehicle and fell into a roadside ravine.

Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) was the first to be hit in the off-season, suffering a broken rib when hit by a car near his home in Lancashire. the beginning of November. Shortly thereafter his then-teammate Mark Cavendish ran into the back of a car which braked suddenly, leaving the former World Champion with a bruised arm.

The next month, Andy Jacques-Maynes was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in California, suffering a broken shoulder blade and a suspected broken collarbone.  Only days insult was added to injury as he was told he would not receive a contract for the 2013 season.

Things unfortunately then took a deadly turn. Lejarreta, a former junior MTB world champion and one of Spain's leading mountainbikers, was hit by a car in the Basque town of Iuretta. Rescue workers were unable to save the 29-year-old, whose wife gave birth to the couple's first child the next month.

Only weeks later, fellow mountain biker Burry Stander died after being hit by a taxi whilst training in South Africa. He died on the scene after the taxi turned in front of him. The popular rider had married another cyclist, Cherise Stander, in 2012, and he was publicly mourned.

Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) suffered the most serious non-fatal injuries of the riders.  As with so many others, an auto turned in front of him without seeing the cyclist. He suffered five broken ribs, broken vertebrae and a bruised liver, spending time in intensive care in Spain.

Fellow Dutch rider Bram Tankink also had back luck with a Spanish driver. The Blanco rider was out with a group of teammates “when a car didn't stop for the riders. Bram Tankink hit the car and broke his left collarbone,” the team said.

The accidents cross all disciplines, as the most recent victim was track para-cyclist Jody Cundy, also on Mallorca. The World Champion was training with Czech para-cyclist Jiri Jezek when “I got knocked off my bike when I overtook a car that indicated one way and then decided to change his mind as I was coming past,” he tweeted. “Thankfully I’m in one piece, a few cuts to my knee and bruised the pad of my palm.”

Another incident in November involved not a cyclist but head of the GB Cycling Team Shane Sutton. Less than 24 hours after Wiggins' accident, Sutton, 55, was hit by a car whilst riding on the road. He spent time in hospital after being diagnosed with bleeding on the brain.

There were of course various car-rider incidents during the 2012 season as well, with the most dramatic probably involving Tony Martin. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider was finishing up a training ride when a car moved into the bike lane, leaving him with “the left half of my face totally smashed.”

He was diagnosed with a fractured cheekbone, jaw, eye socket, shoulder blade and upper arm, but did not need surgery. He was surprisingly able to return to racing within a few weeks and went on to have a successful season, including the World time trial title.

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