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Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) is in an induced coma fighting serious injuries on Wednesday evening after a sickening crash on stage 1 of the Tour of Poland.
The 23-year-old Dutch national champion went into the barriers just before the finish line in Katowice, having been squeezed against the barriers in the sprint by Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma. An elbow from Groenewegen sent Jakobsen off balance, with both riders crashing as a result and several more following as the barriers went flying into the peloton.
Jakobsen came off the worst, suffering what race doctor Barbara Jerschina called “a serious head and brain injury.”
“He has lost a lot of blood. He is very strong. I hope he will survive,” Jerschina told Polsat Sport. “His condition is very serious. His life is directly threatened.”
Jakobsen was intubated and airlifted to hospital, where he was placed under a medically-induced coma.
Deceuninck-QuickStep released a statement late on Wednesday with an update on Jakobsen’s condition.
“Fabio Jakobsen’s situation is serious but at the moment he is stable. Diagnostic tests didn’t reveal brain or spinal injury, but because of the gravity of his multiple injuries, he is still kept in a comatose condition and has to remain closely monitored in the following days at the Wojewódzki Szpital in Katowice. Further information will be made available in the course of the coming hours. Meanwhile, we would like to thank you for your heartwarming support.”
The deputy director of the hospital, Pawel Gruenpeter, gave a statement to Poland’s national broadcaster at 10pm local time, outlining the medical steps that had been taken since the crash.
“The patient was admitted in serious condition and was placed in an induced coma. We firstly stabilised his cardiovascular and respiratory systems and then conducted radiological diagnosis, which revealed injuries to multiple organs: head and chest.
“Tomorrow, he will most likely undergo a series of surgeries on the facial part of the cranium, which will require doctors specialising in oral and maxillofacial surgeries as well as in plastic surgeries,” Gruenpeter said. “The time of these procedures will depend on his overall state. He is a young guy, we are expecting him to systematically get better. It is optimistic that apart from the trauma to face and skull, we didn’t detect any injuries to the spinal cord in our radiological diagnosis.
“Anesthesiologists believe that his overall condition has now been stabilised. We need to wait. The next hours are crucial in assessing his neurological condition,” Gruenpeter continued. “The medicines he is being given do not allow for a full diagnosis but are necessary to keep his central nervous system in the right condition. I think that tomorrow morning, if all goes well, we will have more answers.”
Groenewegen referred to disciplinary commission
Jakobsen was retroactively awarded the stage win following Groenewegen’s disqualification “for deviation from the chosen line that obstructs or endangers another rider”. Groenewegen was also fined 500CHF.
The UCI has “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s part in the crash. “The UCI, which considers the behaviour unacceptable, immediately referred the matter to the disciplinary commission to request the imposition of sanctions commensurate with the seriousness of the facts.”
Several other riders were brought down in the crash as the barriers went flying across the road. Marc Sarreau of Groupama-FDJ suffered “multiple tearing of the ligaments” of his shoulders, according to a team statement, and will undergo further medical tests. Damien Touze of Cofidis also crashed hard but retained consciousness, and is in hospital for further examination.
A race official that Jakobsen crashed into was also reportedly airlifted to hospital. Race director Czeslaw Lang provided an update on his condition, saying that the official “suffered a head injury but has already regained consciousness and is now in a stable condition.”
“I really want to send a heartfelt thank you to the doctors and hospital staff for their prompt care and assistance and I also very much wish all the athletes involved in the crash a fast recovery.”
The peloton reacts
As Jakobsen fights for his life in hospital, there has been an outpouring of support from other riders and teams. There have also been questions raised about the safety of the finish, which is known as one of the fastest in the sport due to taking place on a descent, with riders reaching especially high speeds.
Every year the same silly downhill sprint in the @Tour_de_Pologne.
Every year i ask myself why the organisation thinks it‘s a good idea. Bunch sprints are dangerous enough, you don’t need a downhill finish with 80kph!@cpacycling
— Simon Geschke (@simongeschke) August 5, 2020
On days like this the only thing you can do is call your wife and kids and say you love them.
— Thomas De Gendt (@DeGendtThomas) August 5, 2020
Please @FabioJakobsen stay strong🙏
— Moreno Hofland (@MorenoHofland) August 5, 2020
Jumbo-Visma has also commented, promising a further update after internal discussions.
Our thoughts go out to Fabio Jakobsen and other people involved in today’s terrible crash in the Tour of Poland. Crashes like these should not happen.
We offer our sincere apologies and we will discuss internally what has happened before we may make any further statement. #TDP20
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) August 5, 2020
This incident takes place a year to the day after Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto-Soudal) passed away at the Tour of Poland, following a crash into a concrete culvert. Lotto-Soudal is riding in Lambrecht’s memory at the event.
CyclingTips wishes Jakobsen and all affected riders the very best and a speedy recovery.