Off-road hits front of peloton as riders descend at speed

Tragedy was narrowly averted at Ireland’s FBD Insurance Ras yesterday when a jeep drove onto the course of the race and collided with the front of the peloton as it descended a hill, leaving eight cyclists injured.

Luckily, none of the riders involved – including four from the Spanish team, Castille y Leon, one of whose members, Luis Mas Bonet, lost part of a finger in the crash although doctors expect to be able to reattach it – suffered life-threatening injuries, according to the Irish Independent.

The incident, the aftermath of which is documented by a series of pictures on the race website, occurred 40km from the end of Stage 2 of the race from Dundalk in County Louth to Carrick-on-Shannon in County Leitrim. With the race doctors helping take the injured to hospital in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, organisers decided to neutralise the rest of the stage.

Commissaire Jean Pierre Coppenolle was quoted in the newspaper as saying: "The race ambulances and race doctor had to go to the hospital with the riders, so we had to stop because we had no medical cover for the race.

"To have no medical cover is not allowed as there is too much risk... We decided to stop the race and neutralise the rest of the stage."

Rapha Condor Sharp’s Dan Craven, the race leader following Sunday’s Stage 1, who narrowly missed being involved in the crash, said: "It's not the kind of thing anyone would ever wish for. I kept the jersey but I would have rather lost it than have something like this happen.”

The Namibian rider continued: "It might sound controversial for me to say 'yeah, it should have been neutralised' because at the time it looked like I was going to lose the yellow jersey. Even if I was leading, I would definitely have supported the decision to stop racing."

He added that the riders had agreed that the prize money fund for yesterday’s stage would be shared out among the cyclists injured in yesterday’s crash.

The race resumes today with Stage 3 from Carrick-on-Shannon to Oughterard in County Galway.

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.