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Gianni Bugno, president of the CPA rider’s group, said the blame of the crash last year at the Tour of Poland that nearly killed Fabio Jakobsen lies just as much with course barriers as with Dutch sprinter Dylan Groenewegen.
Reacting to press reports that Groenewegen allegedly received death threats and required police protection in the wake of the horrific crash last summer, Bugno insisted it was the barriers, which gave way during Jakobsen’s impact, that led to the severe injuries suffered by the Deceuninck-Quick-Step sprinter.
“The finger must be pointed at the dangerous barriers that determined the severity of the fall in which Fabio Jakobsen suffered the most serious consequences,” Bugno said in a CPA statement Thursday. “Dylan made a mistake in the race that he paid for dearly, indeed today he is the only one to have paid for what happened at the finish line in Katowice.”
Groenewegen is serving a nine-month racing ban that ends in May after closing down Jakobsen during the high-speed sprint in stage 1 of the Poland tour. Many were stunned that when the ban was issued that race organizers were not also cited. Some contend that sub-par race barriers, which gave way upon impact by Jakobsen and sent him into the finish-line arch, coupled with downhill sprint finale created dangerous finish-line conditions were also significant contributing factors to the outcome of the crash.
Bugno, a former two-time world champion, reacted with indignation about press reports that Groenewegen received death threats. Groenewegen is set to return to competition later this season.
“What happened is inadmissible, unworthy, and indecent. Words and actions have weight and those that have been addressed to this boy are unacceptable,” Bugno said. “Having said that, I hope that the controversy will now belong to the past and that once the sentence inflicted on Dylan is served, the whole group will welcome him back with friendship and understanding.”
Bugno said he would press for more action on rider safety at the next meeting of the Pro Cycling Council meeting, with all of the peloton’s key stakeholders, in early February.
“The first point on our list of requests that we sincerely hope will become operational as soon as possible concerns the barriers that must be homologated and certified,” he said. “They must constitute a protection for the athletes who, taken by the heat of the competition, can also make mistakes, as unfortunately happened to Dylan on August 5th last year.”