American Adrien Costa loses right leg after climbing accident

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American Adrien Costa, who won Le Tour de Bretagne and finished second overall at the Tour of Utah in 2016 while still a teenager, has lost his right leg above the knee after a climbing accident in California that nearly ended his life in late July.

According to a GoFundMe page set up by his former Hagens Berman Axeon team, Costa, 20, was scrambling up a talus field to the base of a climbing route on July 29 when a large rock gave way and pinned his leg against a boulder below. Costa was rescued and taken to a hospital in Reno, Nevada, in critical condition; though his life was saved, doctors were forced to amputate his right leg above the knee.

“Everyone at Hagens Berman Axeon is deeply saddened by the news and our thoughts and prayers are with Adrien’s family and friends at this difficult time,” a statement read. “We have set up this page to help with medical expenses and are asking the cycling community to join our efforts. Any donations, or help you can offer in terms of sharing this link, would be greatly appreciated.”

After taking a silver medal at the 2015 junior world time-trial championship in Richmond, Virginia, Costa’s breakthrough 2016 season included the Bretagne win and the podium finish in Utah, ending with a stint as a stagiaire with Quick-Step at the Tour of Britain. However, he failed to reignite his passion for the sport in 2017, taking an extended break from racing.

In February 2018, perhaps the most promising American cyclist of his generation relinquished his spot on the prolific development program headed by Axel Merckx.

“I’m just not ready to come back yet,” Costa said at the time. “The more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t want to hold a spot on the team when that meant denying someone else of the opportunity. Since I stopped racing in April 2017, I’ve learned a lot about myself and realized how big, and unbalanced, of a part of me was cycling.”

Costa would instead pursue a degree in  Outdoor Leadership and Tourism at Oregon State University, adding “I will always love being outside — hiking, skiing, rock climbing, and cycling, road and mountain — and I don’t want that pure passion and love for it to get spoiled.”

Adrien Costa was rescued with the help of a National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk after a large rock gave way and pinned his leg against a boulder below near the base of the Conness Glacier. Photo: Mono County Sheriff’s Office.

The event marks yet another tragedy within the team, which lost two of its members in 2017. Team rider Chad Young succumbed to head injuries sustained in a crash at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico in April 2017; he was just 21 years old. Five weeks later, team press officer Sean Weide was found dead in his apartment in Omaha, Nebraska; he was 49 years old.

Speaking with CyclingTips in August 2017, Merckx acknowledged that he’d been through some dark moments, saying, “I don’t want to ever experience that again in my life.”

Yet it was Merckx and rider agent João Correia featured in a photo with Costa in hospital on the GoFundMe page set up by the team, announcing the news.

The full statement follows below.

On July 29, our friend and former teammate Adrien Costa was involved in a serious accident while climbing in Mono County, California. The incident occurred on the north ridge of Mount Conness, where Adrien was climbing at around 11,400 feet, near the base of the Conness Glacier. He was scrambling up a talus field to the base of the climbing route when a large rock, weighing around 4,000 pounds, gave way and pinned his leg against a boulder below.

Thanks to the efforts of two hikers who were nearby, the Mono County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue were able to locate Adrien, and after some difficulty launching their own helicopter due to heavy smoke in the area, they were able to free Adrien and evacuate him, with the help of a National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk that was close by on fire assignment.

When Adrien arrived at the Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, he was in critical condition, but thanks to the hospital’s medical staff, and the quick thinking of the hikers who first reported his location, his life was saved. Tragically, they had no choice but to amputate his right leg above the knee.

Everyone at Hagens Berman Axeon is deeply saddened by the news and our thoughts and prayers are with Adrien’s family and friends at this difficult time.

We have set up this page to help with medical expenses and are asking the cycling community to join our efforts. Any donations, or help you can offer in terms of sharing this link, would be greatly appreciated.

-Axel Merckx and the Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team

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