SIERRA NEVADA, Spain (AFP) — Spanish cyclist Xavier Tondo was killed in a freak accident on Monday in which he was crushed between his car and a garage door at a ski resort in southern Spain, a police source said.
For reasons that remain unclear, he got out of the vehicle and became trapped between his car and the automatic door of the garage, a police source in the nearby city of Granada said.
The source said “it appears” that Tondo died instantly.
The manager of his Movistar team, Eusebio Unzue, said another Spanish professional cyclist, Benat Intxausti of the Euskaltel team, was in the vehicle at the time.
Tondo was one of a number of cyclists who have been training at altitude in the resort.
Tondo, who turned professional in 2003, won the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon last month, succeeding his controversial compatriot Alberto Contador.
He also won the Tour of Portugal in 2007, a stage of the Paris-Nice race in 2010 and finished sixth overall in the Vuelta a España last year.
Contador, currently leading the Giro d’Italia, voiced his shock and sadness at the death. Contador canceled his rest day press conference after hearing of the death of his friend and training partner.
“How life is unfair and sometimes difficult to understand,” he said on Twitter. “I can’t describe how I feel after the death of Xavi Tondo.
“My most sincere condolences to his family. He was an incredible person who loved this sport like nobody else. You will be sorely missed. Rest in peace.”
Tondo signed for Movistar at the start of the season after an impressive 2010 campaign with Cervélo TestTeam.
The Movistar team voted to continue to take part in the Giro d’Italia despite the “blow” of the news of Tondo’s death, it said in a statement.
“We are devastated but we have all decided that this is the best way to honor Xavi,” Unzue said in the statement.
Spanish rider Carlos Sastre, who was Tondo’s teammate at Cervélo last season, said the cyclist’s death was another “blow” to participants at the Giro following the death of Wouter Weylandt in a crash at the race on May 9.
“We share the team hotel with Movistar here at the Giro and they conveyed the news to us. It was a blow, one more at the Giro and the truth is that we are all shocked,” said Sastre, who now rides for Geox-TMC.
“I had the opportunity to live with him all of last year and I got to know his human and sporting qualities. It was a blow. We have not yet overcome the death of Weylandt and this news reaches us. Circumstances such as the death of Tondo hurt a great deal.”
November 5, 1978 – May 23, 2011
2003 – Paternina-Costa de Almería
2004 – Barbot-Gaia
2005 – Catalunya-Angel Mir
2006 – Relax-GAM
2007–2008 – LA-MSS
2009 – Andalucía-Cajasur
2010 – Cervélo TestTeam
2011 – Team Movistar
1st overall, Volta ao Alentejo
1st overall Troféu Joaquim Agostinho
1st overall Volta a Portugal
1st Stage 6 Paris-Nice
2nd overall Volta a Catalunya
6th overall Vuelta a España
1st overall Vuelta a Castilla y León
6th overall Volta a Catalunya
5th overall Tour of the Basque Country