Katusha-Alpecin rider Marco Haller will be out of racing for several months after a driver hit the professional cyclist as he trained in his native Austria yesterday.
The 27-year-old had been expected to form part of Marcel Kittel’s leadout train at the Tour de France in July but will almost certainly miss the race.
He was out riding with his friend and compatriot, Dimension Data rider Bernie Eisel, in the province of Carinthia when the incident happened yesterday.
Haller, who sustained multiple fractures of his left knee, had only just returned to training after illness, and is now recovering in the Landeskrankenhaus in Villach.
In a statement issued by the UCI WorldTour outfit, he said: “It was my second day back on the bike after I had to recover from a second viral infection in the 2018 season.
“I was riding with Bernie Eisel and was sitting in his wheel on a slight downhill, when suddenly a car, ignoring the stop sign, came at us from the right.
“Bernie just managed to escape him, but I could not do that and hit the driver’s door at full speed.
“My bike was completely destroyed and my knee as well.”
Sunday marks the first anniversary of the death of 2011 Giro d’Italia champion Michele Scarponi.
Like Haller yesterday, the 37-yeqar-old was hit by a motorist who failed to observe a stop sign.
The Astana rider had been on a training ride in his home town of Filottrano in Italy’s Marche region ahead of last year’s 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia.
The van driver involved passed away earlier this year after refusing treatment for cancer, and was reported to have blamed himself for the crash that claimed Scarponi’s life.
Recent months have seen cyclists including Haller’s Katusha-Alpecin team mate Alex Dowsett and Wiggle-High5’s Australian rider, Macey Stewart, take to social media to express their fear and frustration at the danger posed to cyclists by some motorists, a theme Haller also dwelt upon.
He said: “I am very disappointed, not only at missing the Tour de France but also because of – again – the attitude of some car drivers.
“Cars and cyclists share the road but this seems to be more and more difficult. Some mentality needs to change.”
Katusha-Alpecin added that it is “unclear” when Haller will be able to return to competition.
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.