Rouleur magazine has confirmed on Twitter that its photographer Taz Darling, who suffered serious injuries yesterday when she was hit at speed by several riders who had just contested the sprint finish of the 100th edition of the Scheldeprijs on rain-soaked roads, is recovering from surgery she underwent last night. Meanwhile, Saxo Bank has confirmed that Australian ride Jonathan Cantwell, one of the cyclists involved, suffered a collapsed lung in the incident.
A tweet posted on the @rouleurmagazine Twitter feed this morning said that Darling was "out of surgery, doing well, but in a lot of pain," adding, "So many kind messages, thanks." A further tweet at lunchtime stated: "Latest news on Taz is surgery was successful. She is still in intensive care but 'comfortable', as the doctors say."
Yesterday evening, Rouleur managing editor Ian Cleverly, who travelled to Belgium today – editor Guy Andrews was already there – had told road.cc that the injuries suffered by Darling included “collarbone, ruptured spleen [and] eye socket.”
Press reports, as well as footage of the incident from Belgian TV channel Sporza – which we would stress does not show the collision itself – suggested that several involved had lost control of their bikes on the large sponsors’ logos painted across the road close to the finish line, rendered particularly dangerous by the rain. Het Nieuwsblad has a gallery of pictures of the aftermath of the crash.
Darling had been among the photographers positioned shortly after the finish line to capture images of the sprint that brought the stage to a close, which was won by Argos Oli-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel. There would have been little chance for her to get out of the way of the riders as they headed towards her.
The worst injured of the riders was the Australian rider Jonathan Cantwell of Saxo Bank. In a statement released this morning, one of the team's sports directors, Nick Gates, said: “Johnny had e very unfortunate fall but after having rested in the bus we thought he was ok.
"But as he started complaining about increasing chest pain we called for an ambulance that brought him to the hospital where they reported that his lung had collapsed.
"Luckily, there are no fractures and under the circumstances he feels ok but he has to take a break from training and racing for an unknown period of time. A very unfortunate outcome as he was in great shape.”
One rider not directly caught up in the crash, Katusha’s Maxime Vantomme, can be seen in the Sporza video seeking to give assistance to the stricken photographer.
While we all enjoy looking at pictures of race action, the incident does show the danger to which cycling photographers regularly expose themselves to get those images, and that irrespective of the experience of the photographer or the focus on safety increasingly adopted by organisers, cycling can be an unpredictable sport, especially once elements such as wet roads are introduced.
We know that Rouleur is very popular among road.cc users and that many of you will be familiar with Darling’s work, and we trust you will join us in wishing her all the best for a speedy recovery from her operation and her injuries.
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.