By Andrew Hood

Pedro Horrillo in a team photo

Pedro Horrillo in a team photo

Photo: Courtesy Rabobank

Spanish rider Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank) is in a medically-induced coma in a Bergamo hospital Saturday following a horrific crash in which he fell nearly 150 feet into a ravine during the eighth stage of the Giro d’Italia.

The 34-year-old crashed about 70km into the 209km stage on the high-speed descent off the Cat. 1 Culmine di San Petro.

It’s unclear what caused the crash, but teammates spotted Horrillo’s bike on the road. Evidently, he struck a guardrail and toppled into the deep ravine.

According to Rabobank team spokesman Luuc Eisenga, race officials searched for 10 minutes before they found Horrillo about 150 feet below the road in a narrow gorge filled with large boulders and dense vegetation. It took another 20 minutes for mountain rescue personnel to recover him.

2009 Giro d'Italia, stage 8: Rescuers needed 20 minutes to retrieve Horrillo from a deep, rocky ravine.

2009 Giro d’Italia, stage 8: Rescuers needed 20 minutes to retrieve Horrillo from a deep, rocky ravine.

Photo: Graham Watson

Horrillo — a breakaway artist who studied philosophy at university before turning pro in 1998 — was transported by helicopter to Bergamo, where doctors induced a coma to prevent brain damage, officials said.

“Pedro was unconscious when they found him and he woke up once he was at the hospital for exams,” said Rabobank team doctor Geert Leinders. “He is under a medically induced coma for safety reasons, but we have not found any brain damage. The biggest problem is his breathing. His life is not in immediate danger.”

Giro doctor Mino Farolfi told RAI television that Horrillo’s life is not in immediate danger. On a scale of 1 to 5, he rated his condition was at 3.5.

According to team officials, Horrillo has a broken femur and knee, several broken ribs and a punctured lung, plus head and chest trauma.

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