After being hit by a motorbike in the finale of yesterday’s eight stage of the Vuelta a España, Peter Sagan and the Tinkoff-Saxo team have decided that he will not continue in this year’s race.
“Sagan was hit by a reckless auxiliary motorbike in the final kilometres of stage eight and suffered wounds and burns of first and second degree on the left side of his body, from the hip to the lower leg,” said the team on Sunday morning.
“In addition, he has a contusion on his left forearm with an intra-muscular hematoma. The team doctor, together with the sport directors at the Vuelta, decided that Sagan cannot safely continue the race with the injuries he suffered. As a result, he will fly back home as soon as possible.”
According to the team, Sagan was hit by a Shimano neutral service motorbike. He explained how the situation unfolded.
“There was a breakaway in front and, together with a rider from Lotto-Soudal, I was attacking to bridge the gap. Then the group reached us from behind and I was sitting in second place, while another Lotto-Soudal rider came to the front to pull,” he stated. “So, I attacked again to reach him, as he was about ten meters ahead.
“When I reached him, I signalled to him to go ahead as I was staying on his wheel. I moved to the left and at that moment a motorbike hit me. There was nothing I could do.”
He raised concerns about what he said was a lack of care shown.
“I didn’t even hear the motorbike coming. I find it unacceptable that a motorbike tries to weave its way into the group at such high speed. They accelerate and try to sneak in when they see an empty space. However, they don’t take into consideration that a rider might fall in front of them or change direction. They go extremely fast and the difference of speed compared to the riders is enormous.”
He added that he was frustrated by the 300 Swiss franc fine he was handed by the UCI for his behaviour after the crash, calling it unjust.
According to the team, legal action is being considered against the motorbike driver concerned.
Sagan pointed out that it wasn’t the first time riders have been hit by motorbikes. “Even if motorbikes are forced to go through a group of riders, they should do it very carefully and not recklessly,” he said.
“In my opinion, motorbike drivers don’t take the safety of the riders in consideration seriously. Fortunately, my injuries aren’t very serious but can you imagine what would have happened if he had ran over me?
“If I had crashed alone or with another rider, I would have considered that to be part of the sport. However, being hit by a motorbike of the race organization shouldn’t be acceptable. The safety of the riders should be an absolute priority and all vehicle drivers involved in a race must be more attentive. I really hope this incident is the start of a series of necessary changes in the way races are organized”.
The team said it regretted that he will now leave the race.
“The entire Tinkoff-Saxo team is disappointed and upset that Sagan’s participation in the race comes to such an abrupt end. The Vuelta a España is one of the season’s most important races and both Sagan and the team had high expectations. At the moment of the incident, Sagan was wearing the green jersey, he had won one stage, was set to target stage 8, while being in serious contention for later stage wins.”
It said that the rest of the team will fight on and try to help Rafal Majka take wins in the mountain stages and to aim for a high overall finish.