Top cyclist Dylan Groenewegen was beaten with a nine-month ban on a sprint crash that sent Fabio Jakobsen headlong into a barrier on the Tour of Poland, leaving his compatriot in a coma and requiring a facial reconstruction.
Groenewegen described the horror smash that hurled 23-year-old Jakobsen over the signs to the barrier as “forever a black side in my career” after learning of the punishment from the International Cycling Union (UCI).
Jakobsen was placed in a medically-induced coma for two days after the shuddering collision that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong described as one of the worst accidents he had ever seen.
“The driver worked on the investigation and agreed to serve a suspension until May 7, 2021,” the union said.
Therefore, UCI Groenewegen is suspending until May next year, but refuses to take responsibility for the crazy finish that sports directors and drivers have been criticizing and warning the UCI for for years … Pathetic. https://t.co/MlcCpu6PiP
– Mikkel Condé v2.0 (@mrconde) November 11, 2020
“The rider has also agreed to participate in a number of events for the benefit of the cycling community.”
The 27-year-old has not started the first stage of the race in August since his collarbone fracture.
“I’m following the news of Fabio’s recovery very closely,” he said in a statement.
“I can only hope that one day he will return fully.
“Closing the disciplinary matter creates clarity. That gives me the opportunity to look forward again.
“I’m happy about it, although May 7th is still a long way off. [my team and I] will work towards that day, both physically and mentally. “
Groenewegen’s team, Jumbo-Vista, had described his behavior in the race as “unacceptable” and promised that he would not race for them again until a decision was made.
Jakobsen was described by his team, Deceuninck-QuickStep, as being in “good” condition after leaving the hospital, although they said his recovery would be “long and arduous”, with speaking and eating “challenging”.
He had an additional operation on his jaw, a second face and mouth reconstruction surgery in the Netherlands last month, and is expected to have another operation on his face next year.
“I had to recover from my brain injuries and other bruises and injuries for a long time,” wrote Jakobsen in an update to the fans and thanked his girlfriend Delores Stougje on the occasion of her four-year anniversary and a photo of them before the crash.
4 weeks after the reconstruction of my upper and lower jaw, it was time for the stitches to come out. The healing process is going well. The transplanted bone must now be strong and firm for the next 4 months. The next operation is planned for 2021. Pic.twitter.com/4MnBJ3KfXX
– Fabio Jakobsen (@FabioJakobsen) November 2, 2020
In a couple of weeks my iliac crest should be healed and strong as before. From then on I can slowly start training on the bike again!
– Fabio Jakobsen (@FabioJakobsen) November 2, 2020
“The wounds and scars on my face are healing well.”
When describing his second stay in hospital, he explained: “The operation involves placing bone from my iliac crest in my upper and lower jaw because there is a lot of bone missing.
“This bone has to heal for a few months. After that, more operations will be done to put implants in my jaw so I can get new teeth as I lost them in my accident. Both my hip and mouth are painful, but for days during the day I make progress. “
Jakobsen thanked the fans for their support and said he hopes to start training again as soon as his pelvic crust has healed.
“I’m sorry because I want to be a fair sprinter,” said Groenewegen, admitting that he deviated from his line.
The only reason for this exposure is the severity of the injuries it causes. All recent comparable actions were sanctioned with a descent in the race. Not even an exclusion from a race iirc?
– Eddy Christ † (@EddyChrist) November 11, 2020
Don’t expect anything less from @UCI_cycling. Unfortunately nothing will change. Drivers need a very strong representation. The last races have shown this.
– Dave Casey (@ davecasey1) November 11, 2020
“The consequences have been very unfortunate and severe. I am very aware of this and I hope this has been a smart lesson for every sprinter.”
The vast majority of readers offered support in response to Groenwegen’s announcement, but many were more critical of what they saw as the union’s reluctance to take action that would make the event more secure.
“UCI is suspending Groenewegen until May next year, but refuses to take responsibility for the crazy finish that sporting directors and riders have criticized and warned the UCI about for years,” said cycling journalist Mikkel Conde.
“The only reason for this suspension is the severity of the injuries it causes,” added a Dutch cycling fan.
“All comparable actions of the last time were sanctioned with a descent in the race. Not even an exclusion from a race, if I remember correctly.”
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“I’m not sure if I saw such a horrific crash”: Lance Armstrong reacts when Fabio Jakobsen falls into a coma after the horror blow (VIDEO)