WATCH - Terrifying moment concussed cyclist Toms Skujins nearly staggers into peloton and then gets back on bike
Questions are being asked of Tour of California race organisers and professional cycling in general after Latvian rider Toms Skujins was allowed to get back on his bike following a high-speed crash which left him staggering in the road, concussed and clearly lacking the necessary motor skills to compete.
Skujins [Cannondale-Drapac] crashed on stage two of the Tour of California on Monday, breaking his left collarbone in the process. But thanks to the help of a passing neutral support motorbike rider, the 25-year-old eventually managed to remount his bike, having fallen flat on his face at the first attempt.
Television images also showed that he only narrowly avoided being hit by other riders descending at speed as he attempted to re-cross the road following his second fall.
A Cannondale-Drapac team car eventually caught up to the Latvian and pulled him out of the race, but not before viewers had expressed their shock and concern.
The team said they were taking Skuijins’ injury seriously, applying the same protocols they used when Taylor Phinney suffered a concussion following a heavy fall at the Tour of Flanders earlier this year.
“Our internal concussion program is designed to slow things down and give the rider time to recover properly,” said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “Concussion recovery varies from person to person and from day to day. We’ll evaluate Toms daily and he’ll need to pass a cognitive test before he returns to hard training or racing. His health is the most important thing to all of us.”
Concussion has become a growing issue in professional sport in recent years, particularly in contact sports such as rugby and American football but also in cycling.
British rider Nikki Harris suffered a serious concussion following a heavy crash at last year’s European Cyclo-cross Championships, later writing a graphic account of her experience. She concluded by asking why professional cyclists so often ignored the symptoms.
“You wouldn't break your leg and go running the next day, so why do we injure our brains and start using them the next day?” she asked. “It's something that's in the spotlight in other sports but not so much in our sport. I'd love to be able to take something positive out of the couple of weeks and in some small way increase the awareness of concussions in cycling.”
Bora-Argon’s German rider Dominik Nerz was forced to retire from the sport last year on medical advice following a series of head-impact crashes.
Skujins tweeted from hospital thanking fans for their concern and advising against "getting in a fight with tarmac".
I would never suggest getting in a fight with tarmac because you will loose. pic.twitter.com/YCqHNbgwDc— Toms Skujiņš (@Tomashuuns) May 16, 2017