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Australian Professional Cyclist

Giro d’Italia – Crashed Out.

Frequency Of Crashes:

Before The Start

Before The Start

A few days ago I had my first crash since the exact same time as last year; at the Giro d’Italia Donne in a mass group sprint, just 50m from the finish.

In our sport, if we only crash once a year amongst all the hours of training, racing and sprinting that we do, we should appreciate that we’re somewhat fortunate.

When I’m feeling disappointed about this year’s Giro crash I just need to think about all the unfortunate guys who have crashed out of the Tour de France, or out of GC contention during the first week… not to mention those pushing on with concussions, fractures, bruises and grazes etc. I’ve come away from this one in a horrific state but I will recover quickly and return, so I feel fortunate when I think of others in a worse condition and/or situation. I’ve seen my brother break both legs in a MotoX accident (cased a double) and after 6 months in a wheelchair and being told he’ll never stand, walk or work without pain in the future – he returned to MotoX racing and lives a normal active life.

Relaxing Before Start

Relaxing Before Start

We’re participating in a beautiful sport but like most exciting, riveting sports – it comes with risks which we know about and accept.

As a youngster I used to crash much more often as I’d race without fear, without consideration for the nervousness of my competitors and without understanding the consequences for everyone. In my more mature years I’ve not crashed so often, once or less than once a year which is not so bad considering how many race days we have.  I have a lot of respect for my competitors and more so for my fellow sprinters. I’m still very aggressive and determined but I’ll often back out of a squeeze or fight for position with the top sprinters and alternatively, find or wait for another opportunity to move up. Hence, less crashes.

This Year’s Giro Plan:

Sign On

Sign On

My Giro was calmly going to plan especially on day five when I finally started to feel good, it was always the plan to be strong on day five and six as they were the only stages that looked relatively flat.

I’m still amazed at how good my legs were actually feeling on day five, I knew that it would be very important for me to take the first few days really easy if I wanted to have a chance on day five and six. Even though it’s tough mentally to finish in the last group, it was necessary at this time of my season and the plan worked better than I had expected! I was floating through stage five with rather fresh and explosive legs – this feeling could have been due to the easier days before, or due to the rain easing my allergy symptoms, or purely a mental effect knowing the stage was dead flat! Unfortunately it all fell apart and came to an end just 50m before the finish line.

The Crash:

Groupetto Finish

Groupetto Finish

I had Ina Teutenberg’s wheel during the last kilometer and felt comfortable. Giorgia Bronzini continued to come up on my right side, trying to squeeze me off the wheel of Ina as she desperately wanted it too. Giorgia used a lot of energy in the wind on my right – the rest of the bunch was on my left. I don’t think I’ve ever crashed with the other big name sprinters like Bronzini, Teutenberg, Vos, Wild, Bras and Baccaille etc… We have respect for each other and a little fun fighting for position.

I can’t say exactly what happened on day five of this year’s Giro just 50m from the finish. I was saying in my mind, stay relaxed, calm and safe. I had a good wheel (Teutenberg’s) and was waiting for the sprint to open up in order to get out of the seat and rip into the pedals – it was at about the same moment when it all came undone. Crashes happen so fast at that speed (about 60km/hr) and it’s difficult to know exactly what happened or what went wrong or… what I could have done to avoid the accident.

Laying in the hospital bed I kept playing it over in my mind wondering what happened. All I could remember was a white jersey on my left losing balance, wobbling and leaning on me. I can remember thinking; I can hold this up – but obviously I couldn’t.

You can see the YouTube Clip of the crash below…. Scary, ouch!

Sprinting is always a close dangerous game. There are so many riders trying to hold position and push forward and its very crowded. No one wants to crash and no one ever causes a crash intentionally. It’s just the risk of sprinting full gas so close to so many determined riders.

I’ve spent the last 48hrs praying for my competitors who also fell in the crash, I’m wishing them a speedy recovery and return to training and racing.

Giro Outcome:

Presentation with Marina

Presentation with Marina

In hindsight this year really wasn’t a year for sprinters, the first 3 days were ridiculously hard and then day four was also challenging with some steep climbs at the start…

The first 3 stages finished uphill and then the 4th stage started with hills and finished on the flat – Teutenberg managed to win the stage (she’s in unbelievable form!). Finally stage five was dead flat but was won by a solo breakaway and the following bunch sprint was marred by a massive crash… day six was for the sprinters but Vos was too strong again.

Then it was into the real mountains so given the terrain/profiles and Vos’s unbeatable strength- there was not much for the sprinters to be excited about!

Apart from Marianne Vos (who we can call whatever we want), Ina Teutenberg was the only sprinter to take a stage win this year. Ina was also the surprise winner of the final 16km TT.

Crash Injuries:

First Step

First Step

Following X-rays and a CT scan, I’ve been diagnosed with a fractured vertebra T12. I have an extremely bruised back on the left side where a rider ran into and over me, leaving a 53 chainring imprint on my back. I have a cracked rib and several bruised ribs. I don’t actually feel pain around the T12 area so I’m wondering if the fracture shown on the scans were from a previous accident?! I know how it feels to have a fractured vertebra and this time I don’t feel it. I feel the ribs every time breath – I sure do feel it!!!

Further injuries from the impact include swelling around my hip and pelvis area which is preventing me from walking. The first X-rays didn’t show any fractures or breaks but an ultrasound revealed a lot of fluid in the area. The fluid from the bruising and impact might be causing the pain in my groin which is preventing me from applying any pressure on my right foot/leg. One step is not possible just yet. I’m hoping the diagnosis is correct and once the swelling is reduced, I’ll be able to walk again pain free.

Learning to Walk

Learning to Walk

I’m confident that even though I’m a complete cripple right now, I’ve not done any serious damage and I’ll heal quickly and be back on the bike very soon!

Tomorrow (Monday) Feltre private hospital will do more scans on my pelvis/hip area… apparently it’s not normal that I still cant take one unassisted step six days after the crash.

Hopefully the power of a positive mind will see me back on the bike soon and nothing is broken around the hip/pelvis area.

It will be an exciting day when I can walk without my walking frame or sticks!

Stay tuned for updates.

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