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August 7, 2020

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Groenewegen ‘sorry’ for Poland crash

Cyclist Dylan Groenewegen apologized yesterday after causing a crash in the opening stage of the Tour of Poland which left fellow Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen in a coma.

“I think what happened yesterday is terrible. I can’t find the words to describe how sorry I am for Fabio and the others who fell or were affected,” he wrote on Twitter, a day after the crash. “I am thinking about him all the time.”

Doctors said Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick Step team, was in a “serious but stable condition.”

He underwent a five-hour operation to the head.

“A scan has been carried out and the brain does not appear to have been affected,” Pawel Gruenpeter, deputy head of the Sosnowiec hospital where Jakobsen is being treated, told Polish media.

“The main injuries are to the face. Fortunately the eyes have not been affected. The condition is serious but stable.”

Jakobsen, 23, was thrown into and over a barrier at 80 kilometers an hour as he raced elbow-to-elbow with Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice in southern Poland.

Groenewegen veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. Jakobsen somersaulted over the barriers before colliding with a race official.

Groenewegen went on to win the stage but was later disqualified with Jakobsen declared the winner.

Organizer Czeslaw Lang said in a statement that he was “somewhat relieved” after speaking to doctors.

“After seeing the crash, we feared the worst, but now we know that the situation is serious but stabilized,” Lang said.

Lang said the race official also injured in the accident had “regained consciousness and is now in a stable condition.”

Three other cyclists, Damien Touze, Marc Sarreau and Eduard Prades, are also still in hospital.

The incident came a year to the day after the death of 22-year-old Belgian sprinter Bjorg Lambrecht, who died after falling and hitting a concrete structure on the 2019 Tour of Poland.

Patrick Lefevere, general manager of the Deceuninck-Quick Step team, has called the incident a “criminal act” and said yesterday that he would file a complaint with Polish police.

“We won’t let this drop,” he was quoted by Belga news agency as saying. “It was a very dirty move from Groenewegen.”

Local police said they were investigating the case and prosecutors are looking into whether to press criminal charges.




 

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