Just a fortnight after the death of young Belgian pro cyclist Antoine Demoitié sparked calls for greater safety measures to regulate the presence of motorbikes in cycling races, Team Sky’s Elia Viviani was struck by one at today’s Paris-Roubaix.
The Italian was hit from behind by a moto in the Arenberg Trench with a little under 100 kilometres of the race remaining – one of the signature cobbled sectors of the route that is ridden at speed and where crashes are pretty much inevitable.
British fan Guy W was there and posted a video to Twitter that shows the aftermath of the motorbike running into the back of Viviani, giving rise to questions of why it was following the riders so closely on a part of the parcours known for crashes.
According to RTBF, the Team Sky man suffered a contusion to the sternum, but fractures were ruled out following an x-ray. He was one of seven riders taken to hospital, by far the worst hurt being Orica-GreenEdge’s Mitchell Docker, who came down hard in the crash immediately before Viviani was struck.
Docker, whose team mate Mat Hayman pulled off a surprise win today, sustained severe cranial-facial and dental trauma and serious grazes.Hayman pulled off a surprise win today, sustained severe cranial-facial and dental trauma and serious grazes.
Mat Brett of road.cc was standing just yards from where the crash happened as the bunch passed under the bridge that spans the tree-lined section of cobbles, and took the pictures in the gallery above – we should warn you that while not as graphic as some images that have circulated on social media, there is blood in some of the pictures.
Mat said: “Viviani was pacing around like he was hurt but wasn't making a fuss while medics were treating the Orica-GreenEdge guy who was in a real mess (see photos) and waiting his turn.”
As for Docker, he said: “Usually, crashes are done and dusted before you know it. This time I was thinking, ‘Shiiiiit, he's landed hard on his face ... He's still sliding on his face ... And he's still going." Seriously.
“And, obviously, being narrow there with barriers on both sides, everyone else came down too,” he added.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.