Groenewegen suspended from racing by team, addresses crash in interview

by José Been


Two days after he sparked a crash at the Tour of Poland that seriously injured Fabio Jakobsen and left several others hurt as well, Dylan Groenewegen has spoken at length about the incident for the first time. Groenewegen’s Jumbo-Visma team, meanwhile, has released a statement announcing that Groenewegen will be pulled from racing until the UCI makes a judgement on imposing further sanctions.

A very emotional Groenewegen spoke to Dutch national broadcaster NOS and described the sprint from his perspective in an interview broadcast on Friday.

“In a sprint you are not thinking about anything more than just crossing that finish line first. That’s the only thought on your mind. You see someone is coming and I deviate from my line. Everything went so fast and the barriers were flying around. I crash, am on the floor and others crash. It’s mayhem,” Groenewegen said.

As he continued, a tearful Groenewegen occasionally stopped to collect his thoughts.

“You hear things you don’t want to hear. I saw it was bad and I heard it was really bad,” he said.

“I saw his teammates standing around Fabio. I am sorry for what I did. Turning back time would be easy but it’s a sprint and I made a mistake by deviating from my line. It’s clear that you have to sprint in a straight line. You never hope this is the result [of your actions]. I can now only hope Fabio recovers fast.”

Groenewegen broke his collarbone and suffered abrasions in the fall. He was brought to hospital after Wednesday’s stage and underwent surgery.

“I thought I was okay at first but then went to hospital. This will heal up. I only thought of Fabio in those hours. I didn’t sleep that night. I can only hope he recovers.”

After the crash, Deceuninck-Quickstep manager Patrick Lefevere was very vocal in his anger. One of numerous people expressing anger on social media, Lefevere called Groenewegen’s move a criminal act and suggested that Groenewegen should go to jail, even calling the incident an attempted murder on Belgian National Radio 2. The team is now contemplating legal steps.

“It’s their choice to do that. Everyone is very emotional now. It’s clear I didn’t do this intentionally,” Groenewegen told NOS. “I am not following any social media at the moment as you understand. I do follow all the news around Fabio though.”

Jakobsen’s parents and girlfriend Delore were flown to Poland on Thursday morning on a private jet arranged by Deceuninck-QuickStep. Groenewegen hasn’t spoken to the family yet. “This is not the time to do that. I do want to speak with them but it’s too early for that.”

Team Jumbo-Visma issued a statement on Friday saying that they acknowledge that Groenewegen’s behavior was wrong. They have sidelined him from racing pending the investigation that the UCI Disciplinary Commission opened into incident.

“Team Jumbo-Visma stands for fair sportsmanship, within the rules. With his move Dylan broke a sports rule and that’s unacceptable,” the team wrote. “We have decided that Dylan will not start in a race until the judgment of the disciplinary committee to which the UCI has handed over the incident. We will support Dylan and his family as a team to come through this (mentally) tough times for them. Some of the ways they are approached are reprehensible.”

Team manager Richard Plugge also addressed the incident.

“As a team we are shocked by what happened and the consequences of what happened. He broke a rule of sportsmanship,” Plugge said. “What other teams do is up to them. We suspend him during the UCI investigation and we will wait for that outcome. We hope everyone recovers well but we also look out for Dylan right now, for his girlfriend Nine and offer them a shoulder to lean on.”

Groenewegen, who recently announced he will become a father next February, vows he won’t touch the bike for many months to come.

“Even thinking about sprinting is something that is very far away now,” he said. “I don’t even want to think about riding my bike in the upcoming months. We’ll see what’s next. I do hope Fabio makes a full recovery and we can have sprints against each other in the future.”

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