Two top pro riders were hit by vehicles while training yesterday as they prepared for Ardennes Week which starts with The Amstel Gold Race on Sunday – the defending champion in that event, Enrico Gasparotto of Astana, and IAM Cycling’s Thomas Löfkvist. The former hopes to be able to defend his title, but Löfkvist is out or six weeks.
In a statement published on its website, Astana revealed that Gasparotto, aged 31, had been struck by a delivery truck which pulled out of a driveway near Lake Como.
Gasparotto, who was training behind a motor scooter being ridden by the team’s directeur sportif, Stefano Zanini, who managed to avoid a collision, but the rider hit the truck and came off his bike.
"It was impossible to brake,” he said. “We were going 45 maybe 50k on a little bit of a descent, and it was impossible not to crash.
“I was very, very lucky that there was no real damage. My body is a little bit hurt, and my bike was not so good.
“I have a little bit of pain right now, but today is Thursday, and I can go to the osteopath tonight and everything should be good by Sunday."
Zanini, by his own account, gave the driver a piece of his mind and then some.
"The crash happened in the first hour of training, and we stopped to yell at the driver for about 20 minutes. But Gaspa got back on his bike and rode at the same level for the rest of the training session," he stated.
Indeed, Gasparotto revealed that he became a bit worried how far Zanini might take matters.
"For me this is the most important week of the year, and I want to have good races in the Ardennes, so I continued my training session and that was all I could do.
“I yelled at the driver that this is my job, I don't go out on the bike just for fun, and he has no idea the sacrifices we make to be professionals.
“But Zaza is a big man and he was really angry, and I really thought he was going to hit him."
Meanwhile, Swiss Professional Continental outfit IAM Cycling, already without Aleksejs Saramotins who suffered a broken scaphoid during Paris-Roubaix, has now lost Thomas Löfkvist for six weeks, after the 29-year-old Swede was hit by a car while training.
“Löfkvist was knocked down by a car at the end of his training session and suffered a compound fracture to his index finger on his left hand,” said his team in a statement yesterday.
It added that he had undergone an examination at Geneva University Hospital, where he was due to be operated on yesterday evening.
The two incidents are the latest in a series involving pro cyclists being hit by vehicles when out training, including Bradley Wiggins who was hit by a van near his home in Lancashire last November, and Olympic mountain biker Burry Stander, killed when he was struck by a taxi in his native South Africa in January.
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.