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"I don’t think I’ll find sleep tonight. It had to become a beautiful Sunday but it’s anything but that," Vansummeren said, deeply concerned about the spectator's health.

Photo: Sirotti

EF EDUCATION - EASYPOST

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JOHAN VAN SUMMEREN

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RONDE VAN VLAANDEREN

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07.04.2014 @ 09:03 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Johan Vansummeren was appointed one of the Garmin-Sharp leaders for the yesterday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, but his dramatic collision with a female spectator inaugurated a seemingly endless string of accidents in the crash-marred event.

 

The crash took place after about 60 kilometers of racing in Wielsbeke, when the peloton was negotiating a roundabout in a furious pace as they were chasing an 11-riders strong breakaway. Vansummeren didn’t manage to avoid the collision with a traffic island placed in the middle of a road and passed by riders from both sides, and as a consequence hit one of the three spectators who were admiring the race from a raised island.

 

Reportedly, the 65-year old woman was a victim of the accident, stricken directly by the former Paris-Roubaix champion and knocked to the ground. Both the rider and older woman were taken to the hospital following the happening, but race organizers were reluctant to pass any more detailed information shortly after the accident had happened.

 

"She is still in the intensive care unit in hospital. The organization regrets the accident and sympathizes with the family," Ronde van Vlaanderen organizers informed in a press release.

 

By the time of the race’s conclusion more information about the accident were passed. The 65-year woman’s condition were described as critical but stable, and according to the Sporza commentators she has undergone a brain surgery, while Vansummeren was briefly hospitalized with facial lacerations.

 

As the Germin-Sharp rider was released from the hospital and returned to the team bus before the Flemish monument reached its conclusion in Oudenaarde, Vansummeren was reluctant to speak about the details of the accident or his physical state, crushed by what happened to the spectator.

 

"I’m alright despite a few stitches and a black eye. That’s really not important now. I got a massive scare," Vansummeren said. The 33-year-old was clearly emotional about what happened and didn't want to go into details.

 

"It’s a crash. How it happened? I don’t want to into detail," Vansummeren said. "It happened at a roundabout but what and how doesn't matter now. It only leads to talking about guilt and the only thing that matters now is that this woman gets better."

 

"I feel really bad that other people are affected. The fact that this lady got hurt bothers me much more than the crash. Crashes are part of cycling but it’s really sad for the family. I really hope she’ll be making progress," Vansummeren said. "I don’t know who she is. It was all very hectic. Maybe... during the upcoming days I’ll leave the family alone and then I’ll contact them."

 

Asked about the reason for an enormous amount of accidents in yesterday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, Vansummeren pointed out to several factors.

 

"This is the top. There are a lot of spectators. It’s a hype. Twice or thrice a year riders head to a race with this tension. It’s all about small roads and riding at the front. Every year incidents happen. The biggest part of the problem is what they’re planting on the roads. There are more crashes but there’s much more junk on the road too."

 

"I don’t think I’ll find sleep tonight. It had to become a beautiful Sunday but it’s anything but that," Vansummeren concluded.

 

Garmin Sharp released a short statement on their Facebook page after the incident: "He {Vansummeren] suffered facial lacerations and has been released from the hospital. He, and we as a team, send our thoughts and best wishes to the spectator involved." the statement read.

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