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Giro d'Italia

Horrillo pulls plug on comeback

Pedro Horrillo – the Spanish rider who survived a harrowing fall in last year’s Giro d’Italia – said he will not try to mount a comeback.

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Pedro Horrillo – the Spanish rider who survived a harrowing fall in last year’s Giro d’Italia – said he will not try to mount a comeback.

Horrillo, 34, announced that he will retire from cycling after 12 years among the professional ranks. The Rabobank rider suffered horrible injuries when he fell more than 180 feet into a ravine during the Giro.

“The consequences of my fall impede me from having the necessary level to be a professional,” Horrillo told the Spanish daily El País. “Other teammates never know when to leave it, how to leave it. My fall told me. I sent a letter at the end of December to (Rabobank). I explained that I could not accept an offer to continue for one more year for physical reasons.”

Horrillo was tremendously lucky to survive a 180-foot fall into a ravine during stage 8 in the mountains of northern Italy. Horrillo cannot recall what caused the accident; others simply found his bike alongside the road, but no sign of him.

It took searchers 20 minutes just to locate him, somehow still alive in a deep ravine after flying over a guard-rail. He suffered horrific injuries, including a broken femur, kneecap and vertebra as well as a punctured lung. It took another hour before rescuers could lift him out of the ravine and transport him to a regional hospital.

Rabobank doctors said it was Horrillo’s large musculature that likely saved his life. Incredibly, he suffered no signs of brain injury and despite spending more than five weeks in a hospital, has been on the slow road to recovery.

Horrillo has been able to have a nearly full recovery, with no signs of disability, but he admits he will not be able to return to the level to become a professional cyclist again.

Horrillo said he has offers to work with other teams as a sport director, but in the meantime, will take a sabbatical to recover fully from his injuries.

Horrillo was rare among the Spanish pro ranks in that he had a university degree, in philosophy. He was a regular contributor to El País, writing a diary published in Spain’s most influential daily.

“I will take a year’s sabbatical. I will care for my children while my wife works. I will write, working with whoever asks me, and I will continue riding my bike, of course,” he said. “Even though I have been cleared by the doctors, I need to keep making sport to not get tied down, it’s an obligation.”

He turned pro in 1998 with Vitalicio Seguros and rode from 2001 to 2004 with Mapei/Quick Step before joining Rabobank in 2005.