Crashes that Took our Breath Away


The resumption of the cycling campaign after the break of several months due to the coronavirus left us one of the images of the summer on the first day of the Tour of Poland. In the dispute for the sprint, the two Dutch Dylan Groenewegen and Fabio Jakobsen pushed their rivalry to the extreme at more than eighty per hour, on a straight that dipped slightly downward.

Dylan Groenewegen started the sprint in the middle, but gradually it closed to his right, towards the fences, where Jakobsen tried to pass until there was a moment when there was no room. Jakobsen crashed into the fences, just before the finish arc, falling into a very bad position: an accident that cost him several days of induced coma, although he was able to return to his home, from Poland, in a medicalized plane.

Groenewegen’s irregular move, the Jakobsen crash, the number of cyclists who hit the ground, including the Catalan Eduard Prades, showed the severity of a fall of those that will remain with us forever.

In the recent history of cycling, sprints have been fertile ground for major scares and tremendous moments like that arrival of Vilanova in the Volta a Catalunya in 2000 in whose approach Manolo Sanroma left his life.

From Abdoujaparov to Cavendish

Before we had seen heart attack arrivals, some in the Tour de France itself, such as the final stage of the 1991 edition, the first one won by Miguel Indurain, in which Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, in a green jersey, got hooked on the fences on the same straight from the Champs-Élysées, having to cross the finish line on foot, dragging his bike, among shreds of blood to maintain the regularity jersey.

bike falls

Three years later, the 1994 Tour, the first sprint chewed the tragedy by a badly placed gendarme who was run over by cyclists at a thousand an hour. Laurent Jalabert spitting blood was the next image we saw in a tragedy that also dried up the upward trajectory of graceful Belgian sprinter Wilfried Nelissen and Italian Fabiano Fontanelli.

bike falls

That same year in the Vuelta a España, Mario Cipollini lasted a sigh in the Spanish round because on arrival in Salamanca, already in the first stage, the closing of his compatriot Adriano Baffi slammed him against the fences, fearing the worst for the charismatic Italian sprinter. Cipollini suffered a deep cut on his forehead and was admitted for several days. Another major incident was that of a 2010 Tour of Switzerland when Mark Cavendish collided with Heinrich Haussler causing a massive crash in the middle of the sprint.

The fall with the greatest visual impact in recent times was that of the Danish Tayeb Braikia in the 2001 Vuelta a Murcia, with a bloody face and injuries whose description we prefer to omit.

And it is that what these authentic racers put into play in each arrival that they line up, only they know, although the sprint is one of the most beautiful disciplines of cycling, danger lurks in each pedal stroke and in different ways, and the result can be fatal at times.

By Ibán Vega, El cuaderno de JoanSeguidor

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