BMC's Peter Stetina underwent successful surgery yesterday for a broken tibia and patella, fractures sustained in a dramatic crash at the finish of Monday's Tour of the Basque Country (Vuelta al Pais Vasco) stage 1, and the UCI has vowed to investigate the circumstances that led up to the crash.
The peloton staged a protest on the morning of stage 2 after several bollards in the road were left unprotected by the race organisers, resulting in a massive crash that injured more than half a dozen riders, including Stetina and Sergio Pardilla (Caja Rural), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Adam Yates (Orica GreenEdge).
Stetina's injuries were similar but slightly less severe than those incurred by teammate Taylor Phinney after a race motorcycle stopped on a descent and sent him crashing into a guard rail during the US Pro road championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee last May. Phinney suffered a compound fracture of the tibia and severed patellar tendon.
Riders took to social media after Tuesday's stage, demanding that the UCI take action for allowing the dangerous obstacles to be part of the final 500m of the stage.
When asked what action it was taking, the UCI told Cyclingnews, "Following crashes that got several riders injured on the Vuelta al Pais Vasco first stage, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has expressed its concerns to the race organiser. Under the UCI Regulations, race organisers are responsible to ensure that all necessary safety measures are taken and clearly the presence of exposed pavement posts in the finish line were unacceptable.
"The UCI will be investigating the circumstances in which these crashes occurred at the close of the event and upon receiving the commissaires’ report and any other testimonies."
The crash raised the hackles of the new Association of North American Professional Road Cyclists (ANAPRC), but after consulting with the UCI, interim director Michael Carcaise expressed confidence that the UCI would do the right thing.
"ANAPRC is confident that the UCI will fulfil its obligation and responsibility to learn how this breakdown occurred, and to ensure any lesson is understood by every UCI-licensed race organizer," Carcaise said to Cyclingnews.
"ANAPRC agrees that the UCI-licensed race organizer is responsible for making the course safe and that it failed in that regard on Monday at Pais Vasco. The race organizer identified an avoidable hazard but its inadequate response exposed the sprinting peloton to unnecessary risk in the final kilometre of a UCI WorldTour race.
"The UCI has assured us that Commissaires on the ground in Spain were in contact with the UCI Sports Department immediately following the race on Monday, and that the UCI will perform a thorough review."
The investigation will do little to help Stetina recover from his injuries, which included a fractured patella and tibia repaired by the surgery, and four broken ribs that could not be treated.
"The surgery was successful," BMC's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said. "The knee specialist who performed the surgery was very happy with the result. At this point in time, we are expecting approval from the treating medical team to move Peter back to the United States. His first stop will be at the Park City Medical Center, where he will be reassessed by Dr. Eric Heiden before starting his rehab program toward full recovery. However, we all know that given the nature of the injury, it will take a few months of rehabilitation and training before he will return to competition."
Phinney has been out of competition for almost a year due to his crash, but hopes to return at the Tour of California. Stetina was due to target the overall race there, but it remains to be seen when he will race again.
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.