Massive crash mars finish sprint at Tour of Poland

Tour of Poland started with a tribute to a fallen rider and ended with a massive crash in the final meters of Stage 1. Thankfully, the result of the horrifying crash seems limited to serious injuries according to first reports.

With just 50 metres left to race, Dylan Groenewegen and Fabio Jakobsen came together on the road and crashed into the right hand barriers at full speed. Jakobsen went into, and through the barriers, colliding with a bystander on the other side of the fencing. Groenewegen crossed the finish line before crashing, taking many riders out with him.

The crash happened so close to the line that initial race results listed Groenewegen and Jakobsen as first and second on the stage. Those results are not final, and no podium ceremony was held.

A Somber start ends in chaos

The opening stage of the Polish stage race was a stark contrast to the excitement of Saturday’s return to World Tour racing at Strade Bianche.

Before the stage started, riders paused on the start line to pay tribute to Bjorg Lambrecht. Today marked exactly one year since the 22-year-old Belgian cyclist died racing the Tour of Poland last year.

Throughout the stage, which ran 195 km from Chorzów to Katowice, a nervous peloton saw numerous small crashes. Those small incidents, not unexpected as riders adjust to racing in groups after months away, were minor compared to the finish sprint.

Horrifying high speed collision causes huge pileup

As the group entered the final 200 metres of the race, it was Dylan Groenewegen on the front for Jumbo-Visma. Dutch national champion Fabio Jakobsen was tucked behind on Groenewegn’s wheel.

As Jakobsen attempted to pass on the right, Groenewegen moved over, leaving no room for the Dutch rider to get by. The two touched shoulders briefly before Jakobsen went flying into, (and through) the barriers marking the side of the course. Groenewegen stayed upright long enough to cross the finish line before falling himself.

Barriers, banners and Jakobsen’s bike scattered across half of the course. With the peloton moving at full speed with no place to go, many riders behind also crashed.

Groenewegen disqualified

Groenewegen does appear to swerve, then continue drifting to his right towards the fencing. The group follows, and Jakobsen and Groenewegen make contact before the Dutch rider flies into the fencing. In footage, it seems as though Groenewegen briefly put his elbow out against Jakobsen.

The race jury has disqualified Groenewegen.

A full, slow motion photo review of the moments leading up to the crash, from two different angles, is up now on Sporza. Like the video below, it is not easy viewing.

Jakobsen and jury member both in serious condition

There is little official information at this time about the status of Jakobsen, or the person he catapulted into on the other side of the fence who appears to be a jury member. Both are being attended to by doctors at the scene.

The Tour de Poland race doctor has stated that Jakobsen has serious, potentially life threatening injuries, according to Polish cycling news

High speeds potentially contributed to the severity of the crash. The slight downhill grade to the finish line means that the peloton was travelling quickly at the time of the incident.

You can see the full crash below, but be warned. It is hard to watch:

Lefevere furious, calling for jail time

Patrick Lefevere, directeur sportif of Jakobsen’s Deceuninck – Quick-Step team, was furious after the crash. Immediately he called for punishment for Groenewegen, tweeting “They have to put this Jumbo-Visma guy in jail.” Lefevere subsequently tweeted that he will pursue the matter in court, saying “this kind of actions have to be out of cycling.”

Lefevere is not alone in his reaction, nor in his blame of Groenewegen. But there is no official decision from race officials on the cause of the crash.

Reports from on the ground are slowly filtering in, but little concrete information is available at this point.

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