2011 Tour Down Under, Mark Cavendish with black ribbon
Mark Cavendish and other HTC riders wore black ribbons on their arms in stage 3.

As well as speaking with HighRoad’s spokesperson Kristy Scrymgeour at the start of the third stage of the Tour Down Under (see video), VeloNews asked Bernhard Eisel and Mark Renshaw to comment on their fallen teammate Carla Swart, who on Wednesday was tragically killed while out training in her native South Africa. She was 23.

“Obviously, the team is very disappointed,” said Renshaw.

“She was a new rider on the team; we all had the opportunity to mix and get together in California, so obviously it’s affected some of the girls pretty bad and also some of the guys that got to know Carla in California.

“She had a great palmarès, so she was obviously a top-notch rider. She seemed like a great person; we didn’t get to mix that much because we were busy at the training camps, but it’s a tragedy for such a young girl, at 23 years old, to lose her life.”

Eisel said: “She wasn’t my best friend, but she was a really good teammate. All I can say is that we lost a teammate. The men’s and women’s team, we had such a good time in LA; we stayed there together for 10 days and it was like one team — there were no differences between us. We were all hanging out together, training together, always having a good time.

“We were all shocked (upon hearing the news). We feel for her best friends and her family, and we’ll try to support them as good as we can. We’re all really, really sorry … Of course, crashes happen in cycling and we race on open roads, or train on open roads, but still, it’s such a sad story and it shouldn’t have happened.”

Renshaw continued, “Certainly, cycling is one of the most dangerous sports — we’ve always known that. Training is one of the dangerous aspects of our sport. We’re lucky, (that) here in Australia, we’ve got really good motorists; we’ve got great campaigns to promote the safety of cyclists and motorists on the road. And in Europe, it’s natural (to have cyclists and motorists together). Hopefully, we can continue with the safety (aspect) and don’t have any more tragedies like this.

“It’s a dark day,” he said. “We’ll all be riding with (black) ribbons (on our sleeves) and thinking of her family and all her friends.”

“This was a training crash, a training accident, and there’s not much you can do,” said Eisel. “It happens. Of course, she was out there training and it happened on a training ride, but it could also happen in a car crash or whatever… It’s a sad story in a tough sport.

“We all will remember her as (having) a big smile on her face, always laughing with us, and just having a great time with her… a great girl.”