SESTRI LEVANTE, Italy (VN) — Italian Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) crashed hard on a high-speed descent Monday during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia, but race doctors said his life is not in danger.
Pozzovivo slid out on a sweeping right-hander on the descent off the Passo della Scoglina on the Barbagelata climb about 40km from the finish line in the stage from Rapallo to Sestri Levante. Pozzovivo landed hard on his chest and face. The Italian rider lay motionless on the road surface, raising worries of the worst.
“I was really afraid,” said Pozzovivo’s teammate Hubert Dupont, who was first to the scene. “His eyes were rolling and it seemed such a long time before medical assistance arrived.”
Medical staff attended to the rider, covering him with emergency blankets and eventually loading him by stretcher into an ambulance. As this story was reported, he was being transported to a local hospital.
Speaking on RAI TV, Giovanni Tredici, head of the Giro medical team, said it appeared Pozzovivo’s life is not in danger.
“He is conscious, so there is no problem in that respect at the moment,” Tredici said. “He’s on his way to the hospital. He has trauma to his face, but nothing critical.”
The crash evoked memories of the fatal accident of Wouter Weylandt, who died in a horrific crash on a nearby descent off the Passo del Bocco in 2011.
“The tests carried out at the hospital show that he is in a stable condition,” said race doctor Giovanni Tredici, adding that he had a “relatively modest head trauma” and insisting that his fall could not be compared with that suffered by Weylandt in 2011.
“It was a very, very difficult moment for the team,” said Pozzovivo’s teammate, Carlos Betancur. “Of course, Pozzovivo’s got to leave the race, which is very sad for us. Now, it’s up to me, and I did not have very good feelings today. Fortunately, it’s three weeks to race.”
Ag2r-La Mondiale officials confirmed to VeloNews on Monday afternoon that Pozzovivo’s life is not in danger. According to team doctor Robert Parravicini, who is with Pozzovivo in a Genova hospital, the Italian rider is conscious and alert.
Early diagnosis revealed head trauma, but surprisingly, no broken bones. He will remain under doctor’s observation.
“The good news is that Domenico is OK,” a team spokesman said. “The first news we have is very encouraging.”
Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.