I wanted to reach through the screen . . .

Many of you witnessed the horrific crash of Toms Skujins, yesterday. I was watching it live on NBC Sports Gold while on my trainer. Toms had worked so hard and rode beautifully, climbing Mount Hamilton and descending just as well. He had crashed last year, only to get up and mount his machine and ride to victory . . . not this time. The crash itself was bad enough, but how he was physically, when trying to stand, was terrible to watch. He was trying desperately to ride and obviously had no idea where he was and was on total autopilot. I likened Toms’s attempt to ride and how I felt when watching a boxer who is obviously beaten badly and will not go down.

The Tour of California always puts on a good race. The courses and riders are well taken care of. Maybe there was not anything anyone could do, but THAT is a huge problem that ALL race organizers should sit down and find an immediate solution. The neutral service guy was there to help the rider fix his bike and maybe should have even intervened in Toms’s attempt at riding again. True, it is not the mechanic’s job . . . but Toms needed help and needed assistance for his personal safety: he was obviously suffering from a blow to the head (even when he attempted to mount and fell again) AND he was in the traffic of other bicycles descending at 45 MPH!  After he did make it onto his bike, it was VERY obvious that he was in danger. There MUST be intervention somewhere for this type of problem. Wait! Do not respond to this and tell me about gaps and race officials and where cars are allowed. Something must change. A solution as simple as medical personnel stationed along the course would be something better! The riders’ safety is always paramount. Everything turning out okay actually hurts this kind of issue. Oh, I am so thankful that it did, but what if Tom remounts his bike and rides straight off a cliff because he has no idea where he is? It very well could have happened!

Coincidentally, Trek and Cannondale are the teams who are BIG proponents of concussion issues. Yes, Toms was eventually stopped and pulled off of his bike AFTER he had ridden ahead for four or five more miles. I was glad to see the team force the issue of him getting off of his bike. A rider is not in the frame of mind to make that decision when suffering from head trauma.  I wish my little blog had more reach. I wish I could shout this from the roof tops. I want to pound my fist on the desk of a UCI head honcho. Just take a look at Velonews, today. Nothing about the seriousness of this issue. It should be front and center. What a shame.


13 thoughts on “I wanted to reach through the screen . . .

  1. As you might assume, I saw that a little differently. Put yourself on that motorcycle that pulled up behind the crash. What are you supposed to do, tackle the guy? I can’t imagine anyone who saw that in person would have reacted different. The rider was obviously out of it but was that from the crash or the effort? In that case, it’s fair to say the crash, but how does some schmuck on the back of a motorcycle make that call? Again, this is a fairly obvious case, but it’s not always so easy.

    1. Not easy but any moron could see that was not from exhaustion. He was badly hurt and yes you tell the dazed rider that his bike is out of commission and get him out of traffic until help can arrive.

      1. Well, maybe you’re “super-reflex-man” or something, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt before calling people idiots and morons. Too often that comes back to bite one’s keister, and that’s some ugly crow to eat.

    2. The easiest thing for natural service to do is just not give someone in Toms situation his bike back. Pull out a wheel or something. He is dazed and confused, “sorry, bike frame is damaged need to wait for team car” and then let the team evaluate and get him in a car and to help ASAP.

      1. See, I get you guys, but what happens if you’re wrong? You pull the guy’s wheel, the team car gets there, the guy’s fine, and he has to drop out of the race because of the decision you made. Good luck making that call.

  2. No one would fault you for being concerned about his safety, especially when he’s staggering around, falling down, and almost being creamed by the peloton. Even when he pulled off, he almost hit the curb and was wobbling around.

  3. When someone can’t stand up and has trouble walking they need to be evaluated – even it is from exhaustion. You don’t want someone out on their bike who can’t even balance standing up never mind on two wheels. Worst case, if neutral is wrong and team docs say he is good to go, is being down a few minutes on time.

    I may be overly sensitive to the issue due to my wifes experience last year but a concussion/TBI isn’t something to brush off lightly.

  4. Racing is dangerous mate. It’s what separates the men from the boys. Racers KNOW the risks involved, serious, critical injury or death is always a possibility. If one does not wish to be at a certain level of risk, then one should not partake in risky activities. having med personnel at every possible perceived dangerous spot would not be cost effective for organizers. Pro bike racing is hard, dangerous and not for the timid. As far intervention, that’s a hard call to make. I’ve seen riders get physical with people who try to intervene. It’s easy to make these assessments from afar, but the realities are different. Can safety or protocols be improved a bit? Perhaps. But it’s not as easy as one might think.

    1. Oh no, I’m not saying it’s easy. As far as medical personnel, many ambulatory services would jump at the chance to advertise their hospital or private provider services for something as big as that. I understand “on the bubble” calls, but that one was extremely clear.

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