Groenewegen banned until May 2021 for causing horror crash at Tour of Poland
Cyclist Dylan Groenewegen was on Wednesday suspended until May 2021 for causing a horrific crash at the 2020 Tour of Poland that left fellow Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen in a coma.
Jakobsen was racing elbow-to-elbow with Groenewegen at 80 km/h before the latter veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall.
The Deceuninck-Quick Step rider somersaulted over the barriers before colliding with a race official.
Groenewegen went on to win the first stage of the race in Katowice but the Jumbo-Visma cyclist was later disqualified with Jakobsen declared the winner.
Jakobsen, 24, was left fighting for his life and underwent a five-hour operation immediately after the accident in August. He had more surgery in October to fix his shattered jaw.
"I am very grateful that I am still alive," Jakobsen said after his condition improved sufficiently for him to be moved back home to the Netherlands.
4 weeks after the reconstruction of my upper and lower jaw it was time for the stitches to come out. The process of healing is going well. The transplanted bone has to grow strong and firm for the next 4 months now. Next surgery is scheduled in 2021. pic.twitter.com/4MnBJ3KfXX— Fabio Jakobsen (@FabioJakobsen) November 2, 2020
The International Cycling Union (UCI) - world cycling’s governing body - said that during the investigation Groenewegen acknowledged that he deviated from his line and committed a violation of the UCI regulations. It backdated the suspension to start from August.
"The crash in the first stage of the Tour of Poland will forever be a black page in my career," Groenewegen said in a team statement on Wednesday.
"I follow the news of Fabio's recovery very closely. I can only hope that one day he will return completely."
Groenewegen added: "Closing the disciplinary matter creates clarity. That gives me the opportunity to look ahead again. I am happy about that, even though May 7th is still far away."
Tour of Poland directors were also criticised for organising a downhill sprint finish and the type of barriers used.
"The UCI emphasises the importance of acting on any such incidents from a disciplinary point of view in a fair and consistent manner as well as continuously working on measures aimed at improving road safety."
The Jakobsen incident came a year after the death of 22-year-old Belgian sprinter Bjorg Lambrecht, who died after falling and hitting a concrete structure on the 2019 Tour of Poland.
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