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Fears that 21-year-old may have suffered brain damage after hitting guard rail at 90 kilometres an hour

Italian rider Claudia Cretti is in a coma after her head hit a crash barrier when she crashed at 90 kilometres an hour on a descent during yesterday’s Stage 7 of the Giro Rosa.

In a statement, the 21-year-old’s team said that there are fears that she may have sustained permanent brain damage as a result of the crash.

The rider, who comes from Bergamo in Lombardy, was taken to hospital in Benevento near Naples and was transferred to a specialist neurosurgical unit once doctors realised the seriousness of her condition.

After she underwent surgery yesterday evening, her team said: “Claudia’s condition now is very serious and her prognosis is confidential, however it is feared she has brain damage.”

At lunchtime today, the team published on its Facebook page a medical update received from the hospital where she is being treated.

The statement said that her injuries included a “severe cranial trauma” resulting in multiple bruises and haematomas on her brain.

Her condition was described as “critical but stable,” with the hospital adding that measures to prevent her sustaining further brain damage had been implemented including placing her in a pharmacological coma and an induced state of hypothermia.

Among those sending messages of support on Twitter to Cretti was Fabio Aru, currently third overall and leading the mountains classification at the Tour de France, who wrote: “come on Claudia, don’t give up!”

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.