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Heart disease may have contributed to rider's crash death on Dronfield bypass

Malcolm Cottam hit by car after swerving into lane on dual carriageway

The death of a cyclist who took a week to be identified after he was killed in a crash on the Dronfield bypass last year has been found to be an accident, with heart disease a possible contributing factor.

Malcolm Cottam, 67, died of “catastrophic” injuries after being hit by a car on the A61.

Mr Cottam was riding along the southbound carriageway when he drifted into the road.

The Sheffield Telegraph's Michael Broomhead reports that Mr Cottam may have suffered a lapse in concentration due to heart disease that caused him to drift out into the lane.

Chesterfield coroners’ court heard on Tuesday how Laura Colland was driving her Citreon C3 down the bypass at about 3.20pm on July 31 when she saw Mr Cottam.

She tried to move into the outside lane but was prevented by another vehicle. As she moved back in, Mr Cottam swerved into the carriageway.

Coroner James Newman said: “As a result of these two movements – him moving out, her moving back in – there was a meeting and he suffered catastrophic, multiple injuries.”

Pathologist Dr Andrew Hitchcock said tests revealed Mr Cottam had ischemic heart disease.

He added: “Given the pressure his heart was under at the time, it’s possible he suffered from an acute cardiac event.”

Police found no mechanical problems with the car or bike, and there were no defects with the road or wind that might have caused Mr Cottam to swerve.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, Mr Newman said: “Why did he move out?

“The most likely reason was a loss of concentration due to some medical event.

“He may not have shown any symptoms of heart problems but he did have significant heart disease.

“That’s the most likely reason but it’s not proven.”

At the inquest, Mr Cottam’s family said: “Malcolm was a very fit person who had ridden on the Dronfield bypass for about 20 years.

“He was an experienced cyclist and loved getting out and about on his bike.

“He was a very active man and always loved to be among people – he was always doing something.

“We loved him – he was great.

“He’s missed by all his family and friends and indeed the community.”

Malcolm Cottam was not identified until a week after his death, following a witness appeal by Derbyshire police involving the release of an EVO-fit image and pictures of the bike and equipment he was using.

A retired teacher, Mr Cottam lived alone, and had not been reported missing.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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