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Rider survives 39-foot plunge at GP Lugano

Arnold Fiek falls in the opening kilometers of GP Lugano and ends up in the frigid waters of Lake Lugano, nearly 40 feet below.

MILAN (VN) — German Arnold Fiek’s GP Lugano finished in the chilly lake waters after he overcooked a corner and fell 39 feet Sunday. He swam to safety despite a fractured hip, but his mishap marked an incident-filled weekend for cycling.

The 22-year-old team Christina Jewelry cyclist slipped on a right-hand bend only 13 kilometers into the rain-soaked Swiss classic. Fiek then hit a curb and flew over the sidewalk and railing. He landed on a small wall midway down before dropping further into the frigid Lake Lugano. The air temperature hovered around 40 degrees all day, with the glacial lake waters much colder.

“I never lost consciousness,” Fiek told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I was very lucky, had I fell on my head it would not have been good.”

The race passed through Lugano and continued. Only a silver and black carbon bike remained on the road, a sign for the organizers that something was wrong below. Fiek, in his yellow and black kit and cycling shoes, quickly began to swim the 10 feet toward the rocky shore. Around 10 minutes passed before a rescue boat from the organization saved him from Lake Lugano.

“In that first moment in the water, I thought, ‘Ah, it’s ending.’ You don’t know. Then I swam to the edge, but with much pain.”

The Christina Jewelry team said on its Facebook page Fiek has a cracked hip.

“The diagnosis revealed that a small crack in his hip was found — along with some bruises,” the team said. “We are not sure yet when he will be back on track. At least we can tell you that he is OK and luckily survived a nightmare.”

Fiek left Lugano’s hospital Monday, 24 hours after the crash. Edoardo Zardini, the Bardiani-CSF teammate of winner Sonny Colbrelli, remains hospitalized with four fractured vertebrae. Zardini slammed his back into a small wall with 45km left in the race.

“He splintered his vertebrae, the ninth one significantly,” a Bardiani press release reads. “Right now, it appears that it won’t be a short break from competition.”

Unfortunately, crashes marked several other races around Europe this weekend. A medic motorbike clipped Lotto-Soudal rider Stig Broeckx as it sped by the peloton during Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. He suffered a fractured collarbone and ribs. BMC Racing reported a similar incident concerning Danilo Wyss in La Drôme Classic in France.

In that same French one-day race, wind blew a barrier down in the closing 800 meters and knocked down Argentine Eduardo Sepulveda of Fortuneo-Vital Concept. The team reported he will be out of action for two to three months with fractures in his wrist and collarbone. He will undergo surgery Tuesday.

During Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Australian Mathew Hayman of Orica-GreenEdge fell and broke his right arm. The team said he will spend four weeks off the bike and will miss the entire classics campaign.