The opening stage of the first UCI race to be held following suspension of racing due to the COVID-19 pandemic was cancelled yesterday with 30 kilometres remaining following a crash involving a motorbike rider and a minibus, although there is confusion regarding the actual circumstances.
The 68th edition of the UCI Europe Tour 2.2-ranked Dookola Mazowsza race in Poland began yesterday with a 168-kilometre stage starting and finishing in Teresin, around 20 kilometres west of Warsaw.
According to Eurosport Poland, the motorcyclist was trying to overtake a vehicle at the head of the race convoy when the collision happened, with the broadcaster adding that the rider was taken to hospital by helicopter with serious injuries.
La Gazzetta dello Sport provided a conflicting account, however, saying that the motorcyclist was one of the race outriders, and was killed in the collision, citing Daniele Calosso, sports director of the UCI Continental team Iseo Serrature-Rime Carnovali.
Speaking from the team hotel yesterday evening, he said: “We were 10 kilometres from the start of the closing circuit when we had to cross a main road. There were some breakaway riders, then a moto which was opening up the route ahead of the peloton.
“Unfortunately the motorcyclist was hit full-on by the driver of a yellow minibus who had not realised he was coming; we could see that the windscreen and the front part of the minibus were destroyed, and the minibus in the field by the side of the road.”
A photo gallery on the Polish website e-sochaczew.pl shows emergency services at the scene as well as the minibus and the motorcycle.
Calosso, who stopped together with the rest of the race convoy, added: “We have a Polish masseur in the team and he told us immediately that the motorcyclist had been killed.
“The stage has been cancelled, and now we are in the hotel waiting for news. Everyone says that tomorrow [ie Thursday] we will ride the time trial in Warsaw, but we still don’t know anything, and the atmosphere is truly very sad.”
As it turns out, today’s second stage, a 2.7 kilometre time trial, will go ahead as planned since it is held on a closed course at a horse racing track, reports Eurosport Poland.
However, the broadcaster adds that the decision whether to proceed with the following two stages rests with the prosecutor investigating yesterday’s incident, with a decision likely to be made later today.
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.