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The seven-man Giant-Alpecin team competing at the Santos Tour Down Under awoke in Adelaide to the horrific news of a collision at a team training camp in which relatives, housemates, and close friends of those in Australia were seriously injured.
An informal training ride before the start of stage 6 was called off after the Tour Down Under team was alerted to the news of six riders being struck in a head-on crash with a motorist driving on the wrong side of the road.
Road captain Koen de Kort woke up tour roommate Tobias Ludvigsson, having first read that his brother, Fredrick, was one of the athletes involved in the accident in Calpe, Spain.
De Kort’s close friend and reigning Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix champion John Degenkolb was among those injured in the sickening accident that left several bikes shattered. Also hurt were Warren Barguil, Chad Haga, Ramon Sinkeldam and Max Walscheid.
Haga suffered the worst injuries and was airlifted to a hospital, the team confirmed in a press release, and has since had “successful surgery on neck and chin wounds” with an orbital fracture to be treated later.
Haga’s housemate, compatriot Carter Jones, is racing at the Tour Down Under.
“Every rider reacts differently to it. Carter Jones, he’s housemates with Chad Haga in Girona, so they know each other really well. He just wanted to go and ride by himself,” de Kort said.
“Bert de Backer and I decided not to go for a ride, and instead sit with the team and Tobias, especially, and talk through some things with the director and these guys and make sure everyone is OK. I feel like I am also in a position where I should be there for teammates if they want to talk to me. I personally also don’t feel like a bike ride is the first thing on my mind when I hear something like that, and I’d rather just sit and wait and think about it for a little bit.”
The training group in Spain, which comprised some of the team’s spring classics riders, had finished a sprint interval under the direction of trainer Mattias Reck shortly before the incident.
In a press release the team stated that Walscheid has a fractured hand and tibia and will likely require surgery. Sinkeldam and Ludvigsson are suffering from bad abrasions, Degenkolb has had successful surgery on his upper leg and was due to receive treatment and on his hand and forearm fracture while Barguil has suffered from a fractured scaphoid that may need surgery.
“We all know we could have been in that group and we all know it could have been much worse,” de Kort said. “It’s not very dissimilar to the situation with Amy Gillett I suppose, and it’s easy to think about that stuff and what the consequences could have been.
“I think it’s really lucky, if you hear what happened, that no one, from what it looks like now, has any lasting damage. It looks like they could all race again, this season probably even. Let’s hope they can come back soon, and that they’re not too scared on the road, either.”