[imagesource: Luc Claessen/Getty]
Competitive sports have the potential to bring out the worst in people.
This seems to have been the case for cyclist Dylan Groenewegen, who was so determined to win the first leg of the Tour de Pologne bike race, that he was willing to risk injury to a fellow cyclist.
The annual Tour de Pologne, which kicked off on Wednesday, consists of seven or eight stages and is usually around 1 200 km in length, which is around a third of the length of the Tour de France.
Last year, the race was won by Pavel Sivakov from Russia. This year, a number of competitors may have to forfeit their place in the race following a horrific crash at the end of the first stage.
A brutal, high-speed crash during the first leg of the Tour de Pologne bike race left one of the world’s best cyclists in a coma and another disqualified from the event.
As the leaders of the pack sprinted to the finish line to cap off the first day of competition, Team Jumbo-Visma cyclist Dylan Groenewegen lowered his shoulder and drove fellow Dutch racer, Fabio Jakobsen, over the side panels, where Jakobsen smashed into a race official who was stationed adjacent to the finish line.
Both competitors were moving at roughly 80 km/h when the crash took place. A resultant pileup also left other racers injured.
Watch it play out:
Jakobsen was airlifted to the Santa Barbara Hospital in Sosnowiec, Poland
Shortly after his arrival, doctors placed the UCI WorldTeam Deceuninck–Quick-Step sprinter in a medically-induced coma. He has since endured more than five hours of facial reconstructive surgery.
Jakobsen also collided with a race official who was knocked unconscious and was also taken to hospital. He suffered a head injury, but is stable.
Though Groenewegen crossed the finish line first, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) — the world governing body of the sport — deemed his actions “unacceptable” and officially awarded Jakobsen with the win after disqualifying his opponent from the race.
“The UCI has found the behaviour of Dylan Groenewegen unacceptable, and has disqualified the Jumbo-Visma rider, assigning the stage victory to Fabio Jakobsen,” race organizers said in a statement.
Groenewegen issued an apology on Twitter. The tweet is in Dutch, so here’s a translation:
“I can’t find the words to describe how sorry I am for Fabio and others who have been crashed or hit.”
“I hate what happened yesterday,” he added. “At the moment, the health of Fabio is the most important thing. I think about him constantly.”
Also on Twitter, Lance Armstrong expressed his support for Jakobsen:
While Groenewegen has been largely condemned for his actions, others claim that the structure of the course could be partly to blame.
Former racer Robbie McEwen noted that Jakobsen “didn’t deflect back into the road” after hitting the side barriers.
“He went straight through them,” McEwen told CyclingNews. “That’s really poor planning, not just from the organizers themselves but the UCI, and they have to take responsibility for that.”
The second stage of the race went on as planned, albeit sans Jakobsen, Groenewegen, and a few other cyclists who were injured in the crash.
Doctors are hoping to bring Jakobsen out of his coma in the coming days.
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