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Chilean riding for bronze in women's team sprint at South American Games suffers fractured patella, bike snapped in two...

A Chilean cyclist racing for a women’s team sprint bronze medal at the South American Games in the country’s capital, Santiago, instead ended up in hospital with a fractured kneecap after crashing into a starting gate that officials had neglected to remove from the track.

It seems as though the starting gate was left in position due to a false start to the race, in which Chile, cheered on by a home crowd, were up against Brazil.

As the video shows, with an official waving a red flag, Estefania Ñúñez, riding man one, swung up the track to avoid it.

But Irene Aravena, riding in her slipstream with her view blocked, failed to see the starting gate until it was too late, the collision sending her somersaulting over it, the impact snapping her bike in two.

Aravena was operated on for a fractured patella at the city’s Clinica Santa María, reports sportslashlife.com.

The incident took place in the city’s new velodrome, which only opened in December, and the president of the Chilean national cycling federation, Roberto Pérez, has blamed a lack of experience on the part of the organisers for the crash.

With Chile forced to withdraw, the bronze medal went to Brazil.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

42 comments

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spence129 [21 posts] 2 years ago
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Never seen a metal bike snap in two! As a victim of snapped carbon I would never trust it again! I can't accept that it is stronger.

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surly_by_name [392 posts] 2 years ago
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spence129 wrote:

As a victim of snapped carbon I would never trust it again! I can't accept that it is stronger.

This isn't a very evidence based thought process. Also begs the question, stronger than what?

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paulrbarnard [182 posts] 2 years ago
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spence129 wrote:

Never seen a metal bike snap in two! As a victim of snapped carbon I would never trust it again! I can't accept that it is stronger.

I've seen welds/brazing go on frames. Anything can fail if it's made too marginal or abused. Weight for weight carbon is much stronger than steel. If you compare an 800 gram carbon frame with an 800 gram steel frame the carbon is probably going to be stronger, certainly stiffer... The problem with all this carbon breaks stuff is that people are not comparing like with like.

Thats a nasty accident I hope her future career is not jeopardised

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VecchioJo [397 posts] 2 years ago
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spence129 wrote:

Never seen a metal bike snap in two!

would you like to ride into a similarly solid object at a similar speed on a metal bike to back up your claim?

 3

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 2 years ago
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I hate misleading headlines  14 the headline directed all fault at the referees when clearly the whole story was more complicated

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Gordy748 [110 posts] 2 years ago
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Metal and carbon fail differently; carbon will suffer a catastrophic failure while steel will bend. But how they fail is irrelevant; a competition frame of either material would not have survived this sort of crash.

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Jimmy Ray Will [486 posts] 2 years ago
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I can't imagine that won't be the realistic end to her career.

there is a lot of proportional blame to be handed out with this one, alas only one person will be suffering the after effects.

What a shame, and I hope she recovers well.

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Jimmy Ray Will [486 posts] 2 years ago
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Oh... my experience is that metal bikes tend to bend rather than snap... same result though.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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jarredscycling wrote:

I hate misleading headlines  14 the headline directed all fault at the referees when clearly the whole story was more complicated

How is it misleading?

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spence129 [21 posts] 2 years ago
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I've watched the videos on youtube to show how carbon is stronger than alu by doing different experiments, but the problem is how carbon breaks. As mentioned above metal will bend but at least that gives you a chance, I had a set of forks (On a £1500 bike) so not cheap snap sending me flying over the bars, without an impact or anything like.

I have no doubt the outcome of her injuries would have been similar in this instance, I was just making the point that the bike snapped.

Need a bigger bank balance then I can go Ti!!

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Nick T [950 posts] 2 years ago
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Because, of course, Ti can be ridden into solid objects worry free.

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levermonkey [669 posts] 2 years ago
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 14 Instead of bitching at each other don't you think we should be extending our best wishes to Irene Aravena and our sympathies to Estefania Nunez?

Who gives a shit about the failure profiles of steel, carbon or titanium. The material that the frame was made of matters not a jot. They all would have failed. They all would have provided no protection to the rider who would have been experiencing the most shocking agony after the initial shock passed.

Get some bloody perspective!

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Nick T [950 posts] 2 years ago
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Also, I've seen metal frames snap. I've seen alloy bars snap. I've not seen an aeroplane wing snap though, either metal or carbon.

So far my investigation is inconclusive.

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md6 [181 posts] 2 years ago
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Why the hell was that left there? They didn't seem to be try too hard to remove it either. Inexperience or not, i think almost anyone can see that it shouldn't be left on the track they are racing around.

I hope that the rider recovers well and that it isn't the end of her career

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Simon_MacMichael [2457 posts] 2 years ago
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jarredscycling wrote:

I hate misleading headlines  14 the headline directed all fault at the referees when clearly the whole story was more complicated

It's a statement of fact; the Coo-ee Mr Shifters on the right on the pic in the orange didn't move it. She hit it.

Would she have hit it if they had moved it? No.

Were other factors in play? Yes, it says so in the story.

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jimmyd [110 posts] 2 years ago
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Nasty. Think her team mate could have done more to warn her as could have the officials.

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Mountainboy [96 posts] 2 years ago
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Steel v carbon? Really?
I mean, really?

The chap with the red flag really didn't help by obscuring her view.

Hope to hell it turns out to be less serious than it looks.

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edster99 [336 posts] 2 years ago
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wtf were they doing????? inexperienced or not, how hard is it to work out that the start gate needs to be taken off the track? If it was the US they would be getting sued....

Lets hope she recovers quickly and completely.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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This might seem impertinent and not the main issue in this story (shocking incompetence, hope she gets well soon etc etc) but that is a very nice looking velodrome.

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crazy-legs [796 posts] 2 years ago
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It was a false start. However the Chilean team didn't realise and continued to go full gas building up to speed. At the last second Rider 1 sees the official with the flag and swings up, there's no time to warn Rider 2 who's view will have been completely blocked. She had no chance, no matter what.

The gate should have been removed but it was obviously left there due to the false start; I guess the gate movers just thought the teams would roll round to start again.

As for all the expert materials scientists claiming failure profiles for different frame materials...  29

Hope the injured rider heals fully.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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A steel frame can absorb a lot of energy in a frontal impact, through the bending of the tubing, just like the crumple zone of a car. If you get hit from behind, the accident is also more survivable if you're on a steel frame, especially if you're using traditional spoked wheels.

Also worth considering is that carbon can shatter on impact, meaning potential secondary injury through being "stabbed" or lacerated, either by jagged tube ends or shards of this material.

As everyone knows, even the highest quality carbon components, made by the best manufacturers for the best riders, under the strictest quality control procedures, can be prone to catastrophic failure, and yet many lesser riders are riding parts of unknown provenance, with an unknown lifespan, and often 2nd hand or from bikes that have previously been involved in accidents.

Carbon is great when used under controlled conditions, but use on the public highway, with so much overwhelming anecdotal evidence of component or frame failure, and with the potential for causing death or injury to third parties, just makes me a little apprehensive on group rides.

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Cooks [491 posts] 2 years ago
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What does it matter that the bike snapped?

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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I once rode a homemade steel bike over a six bricker ramp and it snapped into two pieces (but not before clearing 5 local kids from the neighbourhood lay down behind it)
Lets end this argument right now.

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brokenorange [36 posts] 2 years ago
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Well this is what happens when you ride an aluminium bike into a stationary object... erm a car.

Aluminium Frame 0 - Carbon forks 1.

Not that I'm advocating one or another.

As for Irene Aravena the frame material is irrelevant. What caused her injury was the impact with the track floor. A metal frame would only act as a crumple zone if she had been attached to the bike. It serves as a good example of why we wear seat belts in cars. al-a Newtons first law - an object will remain at rest or continue to travel at a constant speed unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. In her case that unbalanced force was unfortunately the provided by the track floor.

As for the track officials, its not clear from the video whether there was only one red flag. Surely, as soon as the false start was noted red flags should have been deployed in more than one location, certainly not right in-front of the start gate!

Hope she has a speedy recovery, which is the main thing of course.

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Colin Peyresourde [1750 posts] 2 years ago
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The snapping of the frame probably helps her here because it dissipates the force of the collision. I imagine if she was riding steal she might have been thrust down on the track harder and maybe taken a broken collarbone.

It's pretty clear she neither heard the false start, nor the starting blocks. She might look at her team mate also for not paying attention until too late also.

Anyway, that's academic. I hope that she makes a speedy recovery and is soon back on her bike and loving it!

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Nick T [950 posts] 2 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

...overwhelming anecdotal evidence...

This is an oxymoron i've not come across before.

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SteppenHerring [330 posts] 2 years ago
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This is why I use a rubber frame. Unlike carbon, steel, aluminium, titanium or bamboo it simply bends in a crash. Plus it has the advantage that the flexibility in the bottom bracket means than I am never going fast enough to injure myself.

See - that was much more interesting than a story about a professional athlete having a nasty crash that could impact her career.

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SteppenHerring [330 posts] 2 years ago
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Watching the video it looks like she could've been lucky and just flipped over and winded herself (catching the kneecap on the way). Fingers crossed she's OK and I don't care what her frame was made of.

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The _Kaner [843 posts] 2 years ago
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Poor woman!
Hope she makes a full recovery,that looked fairly nasty!

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The _Kaner [843 posts] 2 years ago
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Poor woman!
Hope she makes a full recovery,that looked fairly nasty!

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