Giro d'Italia

TV helicopter causes freak crash in Giro d’Italia finale

A wind gust from a low-flying TV helicopter caused a crash during Tuesday's fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia.

Two riders from Italian team Vini Zabu-KTM were caught up in a freak crash during Tuesday’s stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia after a wind blast from a low-flying helicopter blew metal barriers into the road. The crash happened in the final meters of the 140-kilometer stage from Catania to Villafranca Tirrena.

Luca Wackermann and Etienne van Empel were both knocked from their bicycles, and images appeared on social media showing the two riders on the ground.

Wackermann was reportedly knocked unconscious in the crash — he was transported to a local hospital by ambulance and later diagnosed with a fractured cheekbone. Van Empel suffered cuts and bruises in the crash. Both men were credited with the finishing time of stage winner Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ).

It’s bad news for the Italian wild-card team, which has raced under such banners as ISD, Southeast, and Wilier Triestina. Wackermann, 28, won the Tour du Limousin in August.

“Luca came round in the ambulance, he couldn’t remember a thing,” said Francesco Frassi, sport director for the team.

According to race organizer RCS Sport, the helicopter that caused the crash was used by state broadcaster RAI Sport.

AFP contributed to this report.