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by Dane Cash
August 7, 2020
Photography by Kristof Ramon
Jumbo-Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen apologized on Thursday for causing the crash on the opening stage of the Tour of Poland that injured Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and several others – including Groenewegen himself – while Deceuninck team manager Patrick Lefevere confirmed that he was planning to file a police complaint.
“I hate what happened yesterday. I can’t find the words to describe how sorry I am for Fabio and others who have fallen or been hit,” Groenewegen wrote on Twitter in Dutch.
“At the moment, the health of Fabio is the most important thing. I think about him constantly.”
A day after the horrific crash that was sparked when Groenewegen rode Jakobsen into the barriers in the closing meters of a stage to Katowice, Jakobsen remains in an induced coma at the hospital. Doctors had initially planned to try to awaken him on Thursday, but ultimately decided to wait until Friday. Jakobsen has already undergone several hours of surgery to treat injuries to his face.
Groupama-FDJ’s Marc Sarreau suffered torn tendons in his shoulder in the fall, Edu Prades of Movistar sustained a vertebra fracture, and Cofidis’s Damien Touzé fractured a finger in multiple places. On Thursday, Jumbo-Visma announced that Groenewegen himself had broken his collarbone. A person taking photos at the finish line was also among those seriously injured; organizers have said that he is now in stable condition.
In the immediate aftermath of the crash, Lefevere wrote on Twitter that “they have to put this guy of @TeamJumbo in jail,” and he followed that up with further Tweets making clear his intent to seek legal action against Groenewegen. He has since reiterated that intent in an interview with the Belga news agency.
“I confirm what I said on Twitter. It was a very dirty move from Groenewegen,” Lefevere said, according to Belga. “We have already filed a complaint to the UCI and we will file a complaint to the Polish police, we will not just let this drop.”
For its part, the UCI published a statement on Wednesday evening condemning Groenewegen’s actions in the sprint, saying that the organization “considers the behavior unacceptable” and that it “immediately referred the matter to the Disciplinary Commission to request the imposition of sanctions commensurate with the seriousness of the facts.”
On Thursday, the CPA, which represents professional cyclists, said that it had sent a letter to the UCI expressing concerns after the incident. While the riders’ union called for punishments for those who ride in ways that cause crashes like the one on Wednesday in Poland, it also called for an investigation into the course setup.
“In the recording of the accident, the barriers seem way too low to guarantee a real protection in the event of a crash and they also seem insufficiently secured to the supports so as to ‘fly anywhere’ after the impact. Same as for the billboards placed alongside the race course,” CPA president Gianni Bugno wrote.
“We ask if a check has been carried out on the suitability of these protections and their correct installation before the start of the race.”