In a season marred by sometimes fatal motorcycle crashes in the peloton, there was another horrific event in Saturday’s third stage at the Tour of Belgium.
According to media reports in Belgium, two motorcycles were trying to pass the peloton on a descent, and one of the motorbikes rear-ended into the other when the first motorcycle braked suddenly. Details were sketchy about what exactly happened, but dozens of riders then crashed, with several being taken to hospitals with injuries. The stage was stopped, and later cancelled in the ensuing chaos and confusion.
According to Sporza, 19 riders were involved in the crash, included Stig Broeckx (Lotto – Soudal), who was previously struck by a motorcycle earlier this season during Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Broeckx sustained serious head injuries in Saturday’s incident, and according to a Lotto – Soudal press release, is now at a nearby hospital in a coma.
“A scan was taken at the hospital and it showed that Stig has two bleedings in his brain. Stig is in a non-induced coma, but for the moment he doesn’t need to undergo surgery. He doesn’t have a skull fracture, but he does have a fractured eye socket, which will be further evaluated later,” said team doctor Servaas Bingé. “At this point, it is very difficult to give a prognosis about a full recovery. The next 24 hours he will be very closely monitored.”
Sporza also reported that 10 other riders have been transported to local hospitals, among them Jesper Asselnan, Tony Hurel, Pieter Jacobs, Loic Chetout, and Frederik Frison.
According to RTBF, the accident occurred at about 77km on Mont Brigi in what was the “queen stage” of the Belgian tour. Photos posted on Twitter showed riders being attended to by doctors and team staffers.
The incident comes following a string of high-profile crashes involving motorcycles in races, and has revived the debate about how many should be allowed in the peloton. In March during Gent-Wevelgem, Antoine Demoitié (Wanty—Goubert) died following a crash with a motorcycle.
The UCI promised to study the problem on how to regulate the complicated issue of vehicles in bike races.
Check back as more details are revealed.