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Italian pro cyclist punched in face by driver during training ride

AG2R-La Mondiale's Andrea Vendrame has presence of mind to take picture of vehicle's licence plate after assault...

Italian pro cyclist Andrea Vendrame has spoken of how he was punched in the face by a motorist while on a training ride near Treviso.

The incident happened last Monday, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport, with the driver who assaulted the AG2R-La Mondiale rider initially fleeing the scene.

Vendrame had the presence of mind to take a photo with his mobile phone of the car’s licence plate, and a witness to the incident also reported it to carabinieri in Treviso, resulting in the motorist turning himself in.

Vendrame is being represented by Milan-based Federico Balconi of non-profit organisation Zerosbatti, which provides insurance and legal services to cyclists, and will file a complaint for assault and battery and for injuries sustained.

Speaking of the assault, the 26-year-old told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “I was pedalling on the right, inside the white line, when a high-powered car brushed past me and then braked to a sudden halt a few hundred metres in front of me.

“As I approached, I saw that the person was coming towards me: I swerved to the left, towards the centre of the road, to avoid him, and when I passed, he punched me on the right cheek, the one that had been severely injured in the 2016.

“The car started up again making a U-turn and I photographed the licence plate with my mobile phone.”

He continued: “I think of the young people who would like to be a rider like me. It isn’t possible for a junior to stop riding because he is afraid of training on the road.

“I ride a bike every day, I can’t think about fear while pedalling. Last year, another professional from my area [NTT Pro Cycling’s Samuele] Battistella, was insulted by a motorist.

“It hurts me that there is no respect for those who ride a bike, whether a professional or amateur.”

Vendrame has campaigned for cycle safety following an incident four years ago when he was seriously injured on a training ride when a motorist crashed into him.

“In 2016, while I was training in the Colle Umberto area, a car cut across me and I ended up with my head in the windscreen,” he said.

“I underwent numerous operations on my face at the hospital in Treviso hospital, and I always have a long beard to hide the scars.

“I had invasive operations for facial reconstruction, and still have small fragments of glass in my face.

“I immediately made myself available immediately to become a spokesperson for those who suffer accidents and find themselves in this kind of situation,” he added. “We have to make our voice heard.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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