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Sydney road rage driver questioned

Kevin Nichols got the driver's tag number

Kevin Nichols got the driver's tag number (Image credit: Greg Johnson)

Police say a 34-year-old man was interviewed last night at a residence in Claymore in Sydney's southwest after a cycle crash near Sydney Airport yesterday morning injured dozens of Australia's cycling elite. Officers have also examined a Ford Falcon sedan at the premises. No arrests were made but officers are continuing their investigation into the incident.

Olympic contender Ben Kersten said he's still struggling to understand the actions of a motorist who braked suddenly in front of him and a group of around 50 cyclists this morning. The abrupt maneuver and the speed of the group sent more than half of the riders to the ground. Witnesses described the driver's action as intentional, and Kersten said his injuries could put his Olympic hopes to an end.

"I did hurt myself; I'm not broken or anything, but I am going to need a few days' recovery," Kersten told the Sydney Morning Herald. "I'm having trouble bending my arm, my hip's all flared up. I rolled my ankle so it's not something you just walk straight through, but a lot of other people looked a lot worse than me. It's just a disgrace, an absolute disgrace."

Kersten has not yet qualified for the Beijing Games, and the last remaining spot is to be decided at a trial later this month. The sprinter rued his misfortune at now having to build a new bike and recover from his minor injuries before the event, but knows things could have been much worse. "We're so lucky somebody isn't dead, we were pushing 60kmh, sprawled all over the road with trucks going past. I really don't know how someone isn't dead, that's all I can say."

The Beijing keirin hopeful said the incident demonstrated the escalating hostilities he and his fellow cyclists face in Sydney. "This is our training ground," said Kersten. "We can't ride round and round a football stadium at 60kmh. The law states we are allowed on the road. A brutal death match on the road is not going to solve anything," he said. "This whole incident really exemplified the escalating road rage towards cyclists happening on Sydney's roads."

Perhaps the most disturbing evidence to support this view is reports that other drivers yelled insults at the fallen cyclists as they drove past the scene of the accident. Kevin Nichols, the father of Kate Nichols, who survived a head-on collision in Germany which killed her AIS team-mate Amy Gillett in 2005, described the scene.

"A perfect example of the enmity were the jeers and taunts of several drivers (more than three separate drivers that I noticed) making their way past the aftermath of the accident, despite the fact that a police car and two ambulances were on the scene treating seriously injured people," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Nichols, himself an Olympic gold medalist from the 1984 Games, also described the incident to ABC news, saying the driver had harassed the bunch from behind, and then passed the group very close and cut off the riders in the front. "Once he got in front he slowed down and I thought 'here we go' and took note of his registration number and called out to the bunch to 'watch out'.

"The bunch slowed a bit but as we got behind him, he slammed his brakes on and the front of the group went straight into the back of the car. The driver stopped. Obviously he stopped when he caused the accident. He then started to move forward.

"I called out to him to 'stop' for obvious reasons - police were going to have to come. He pulled over and stopped, then had second thoughts and then did the bolt."

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