Video: Horrific crash as cyclist hits velodrome starting gate that officials failed to remove

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

by Simon_MacMichael   March 14, 2014  

Chile Velodrome crash YouTube still

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.

38 user comments

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jarredscycling wrote:
I hate misleading headlines Angry the headline directed all fault at the referees when clearly the whole story was more complicated

How is it misleading?

posted by farrell [1640 posts]
14th March 2014 - 15:29

14 Likes

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!!

posted by spence129 [21 posts]
14th March 2014 - 15:55

17 Likes

Because, of course, Ti can be ridden into solid objects worry free.

posted by Nick T [853 posts]
14th March 2014 - 16:07

33 Likes

Angry 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!

posted by levermonkey [463 posts]
14th March 2014 - 16:17

85 Likes

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.

posted by Nick T [853 posts]
14th March 2014 - 16:23

18 Likes

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

posted by md6 [165 posts]
14th March 2014 - 16:34

19 Likes

jarredscycling wrote:
I hate misleading headlines Angry 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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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8780 posts]
14th March 2014 - 16:53

27 Likes

Nasty. Think her team mate could have done more to warn her as could have the officials.

posted by jimmyd [99 posts]
14th March 2014 - 18:01

16 Likes

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.

posted by Mountainboy [80 posts]
14th March 2014 - 18:06

20 Likes

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.

posted by edster99 [236 posts]
14th March 2014 - 18:25

22 Likes

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.

posted by Some Fella [856 posts]
14th March 2014 - 18:30

17 Likes

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... Rolling Eyes

Hope the injured rider heals fully.

posted by crazy-legs [601 posts]
14th March 2014 - 18:32

23 Likes

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.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
14th March 2014 - 19:12

24 Likes

What does it matter that the bike snapped?

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [496 posts]
14th March 2014 - 19:16

23 Likes

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.

posted by Some Fella [856 posts]
14th March 2014 - 19:34

15 Likes

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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posted by brokenorange [24 posts]
14th March 2014 - 20:30

12 Likes

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!

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1316 posts]
14th March 2014 - 20:34

15 Likes

Neil753 wrote:
...overwhelming anecdotal evidence...

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

posted by Nick T [853 posts]
14th March 2014 - 21:45

25 Likes

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.

posted by SteppenHerring [239 posts]
14th March 2014 - 21:46

35 Likes

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.

posted by SteppenHerring [239 posts]
14th March 2014 - 21:50

12 Likes

Poor woman!
Hope she makes a full recovery,that looked fairly nasty!

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

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posted by The _Kaner [556 posts]
14th March 2014 - 23:53

21 Likes

That's what the flags are for, in any kind of racing you need to be alert to the dangers or you become a danger yourself (or to yourself, as illustrated). Hopefully she'll make a quick recovery, but you can't blame the officials for such a schoolboy error.

posted by caaad10 [141 posts]
15th March 2014 - 0:07

11 Likes

God you luddite morons are tiresome... Carbon is MORE strong than alloy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xreZdUBqpJs

posted by badbadleroybrown [17 posts]
15th March 2014 - 6:33

16 Likes

Hate to be the bearer of bad news but that's all on her. She's got her head down staring at the lead riders back wheel. Group riding 101 rookie mistake right there. Had she had her head up she would've begun reacting when the lead rider reacted instead of two seconds later when she lifts her head. Hope she heals up soon but it's pretty shite that the article points fault at the officials when really, it's all on the rider in this one.

posted by badbadleroybrown [17 posts]
15th March 2014 - 6:36

13 Likes

badbadleroybrown wrote:
Hate to be the bearer of bad news but that's all on her. She's got her head down staring at the lead riders back wheel. Group riding 101 rookie mistake right there. Had she had her head up she would've begun reacting when the lead rider reacted instead of two seconds later when she lifts her head. Hope she heals up soon but it's pretty shite that the article points fault at the officials when really, it's all on the rider in this one.

I think not finding a starting gate on the track would come higher in the list of expectations.

The officials should have taken it off the track, or provided better indication that the race had been 'red-flagged', they didn't; therefore they are at fault Q.E.D.

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

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posted by jova54 [637 posts]
15th March 2014 - 7:47

15 Likes

badbadleroybrown wrote:
Hate to be the bearer of bad news but that's all on her. She's got her head down staring at the lead riders back wheel. Group riding 101 rookie mistake right there. Had she had her head up she would've begun reacting when the lead rider reacted instead of two seconds later when she lifts her head. Hope she heals up soon but it's pretty shite that the article points fault at the officials when really, it's all on the rider in this one.

This rookie international sprint rider certainly should have been following group riding etiquette. Pointing out holes, parked cars, oncoming traffic and going wide for horses. Hopefully she puts her gel wrappers back in her pocket and uses mudguards in winter.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc
@HOYvulpine

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posted by aslongasicycle [349 posts]
15th March 2014 - 8:37

25 Likes

.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc
@HOYvulpine

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posted by aslongasicycle [349 posts]
15th March 2014 - 8:40

8 Likes

Blaming the rider for that? FFS. I think a professional track rider should have an expectation that the track should be clear. Plus, she does notice the hazard but the dimwit officials leave her nowhere to go but ito the gate, as she looked as though she wantd to swerve to her left. Pure incompetence on the part of the officials.

posted by paulfg42 [382 posts]
15th March 2014 - 9:46

15 Likes

+ she's wearing an aero helmet that covers her ears, so hearing a false start would be hard. I wager the second gun didn't have a corresponding one on the other side of the track, so they would have been nearly 100 yards away. I'm not surprised either rider heard it.

posted by Gordy748 [98 posts]
15th March 2014 - 15:44

18 Likes

'Group riding 101 rookie mistake'

Agreed...had it been a rookie group ride instead of a pro track 2-up.

posted by andyp [1233 posts]
16th March 2014 - 13:40

7 Likes