Cyclist suffers suspected BROKEN BACK after ‘low-flying helicopter’ causes barrier to strike two riders at Giro d’Italia (VIDEO)
Luca Wackermann suffered multiple injuries, including a suspected broken back, during the fourth stage at the Giro d’Italia when the draft from a low-flying helicopter allegedly caused a barrier to loosen and strike two riders.
Italy’s Wackermann has withdrawn from the race after the bizarre incident which saw both he and Etienne van Empel of the Vini Zabu-KTM team involved in the major crash towards the end of the stage which left Wackerman with numerous injuries including a suspected fractured back, as well as concussion, a broken nose, multiple cuts to his face and significant bruising on his arms and legs.
“Wackermann will spend the night in the hospital kept under observation and losing that chance to live a dream vanished because of an episode that could have brought some heavier consequences,” a statement from the Italian team said.
“Wackermann was sent to the hospital, he was barely conscious,” team boss Andrea Citracca said to Italian television.
“The helicopter was flying too low, the movement of the air blew up the barriers. It is not clear if he has broken his pelvis. The barriers were not tied properly.”
#Giro ATENCIÓN: Informa el equipo italiano @ZabuBradoKTM que su corredor Luca Wackermann se retira de la carrera porque fue impactado por una valla que voló a la vía por el fuerte viento. Pronta recuperación. pic.twitter.com/agnKrdpR6L
— ColombiaSports.net (@colombiasports) October 6, 2020
I am okay. Only some small cuts on my fingers. Not really sure what happend but out of nowhere the barriers flew into our group. For now my thought are with my teammate Luca and hope some good news will arrive soon🤞#giro @ZabuBradoKTM pic.twitter.com/blR2o1Ncy7
— Etienne van Empel (@etiennevanempel) October 6, 2020
#Giro Ferito, ammaccato, incerottato, ma è un sorriso bellissimo
— Vini Zabú – Brado – KTM (@ZabuBradoKTM) October 6, 2020
However, that version of the cause was later disputed by a source speaking to the BBC, who said that “the barriers were well tied together and in that moment the TV helicopter was flying over the finish.”
The person added that “an external factor could have moved” the barriers.
Van Empel, meanwhile, was largely uninjured. France’s Arnaud Demare of Groupama-FDJ was unencumbered by the accidents as he claimed the win in the bunch sprint on the final day of race in Sicily.
The incident came after another strange accident which saw double Olympic gold winner Geraint Thomas suffer a broken pelvis after he crashed as he cycled over a water bottle which appeared to have been discarded by another rider – and, somewhat amazingly, the situation repeated itself when Dutchman Pieter Weening also struck a drinks bottle causing him to lose control of his bike and strike his head on the tarmac.
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After being medically assessed, Weening was allowed to continue the race despite appearing visibly affected by the incident as he appeared confused attempting to locate the pedal of his bike as he mounted it.
The combination of incidents has led to criticism of the safety protocols in the Giro d’Italia as well as a wider debate as to how the sport of cycling deals with potential concussion injuries and comes after Romain Bardet finished stage 13 of the Tour de France with an injury later diagnosed as a bleed on the brain after a crash.
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