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Bradley Wiggins: “Sprinting Must Change. It Could Learn from Athletics.”

By Monica Buck

Fabio Jakobsen suffered a horrible crash in the first stage of the Tour of Poland. After contact with Dylan Groenewegen during the final sprint, he was sent into the barriers. His initial condition was described as “life-threatening” by doctors at the hospital in Sosnowiec. Jakobsen sustained injuries to the eye socket and jaw following a harsh impact on the head. His chest was also affected and he was put into an induced coma. Thankfully, he came out of the coma two days later. According to the doctors, he is in a relatively good condition.

Dylan Groenewegen was disqualified and suspended by his own team. The rider, in tears, apologised for his actions in a video and he is now awaiting judgement by the UCI disciplinary committee.

Bradley Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins in an interview. © Profimedia

Bradley Wiggins spoke of the incident on his Eurosport podcast, claiming that something needs to be done to make cycling sprints safer.

“I instantly thought of the 100-m race in athletics and the lanes,” Wiggins said on the podcast. “Lots of sprinters sprint with their head down or looking five metres ahead and are constantly aware of riders coming up and, sometimes, you can tend to naturally drift slightly – as Groenewegen did.

“Some sort of markings, or something on a road, systematically in every race, for the last 50 m even, so you’ve got some bearing of where you are.

“It might not work but it’s the only thing I can think of when you’re flat-out sprinting. Something needs to be done rather than just disqualifying riders. Someone like Groenewegen now has to live with the consequences of that – no one in the professional peloton intentionally goes out to do that to a rider.”

Fabio Jakobsen crash
Dylan Groenewegen falls near the finish line while the bike of Fabio Jakobsen is sent flying following a collision of the two cyclists. © Profimedia

The UCI released a statement condemning the Jumbo Visma rider’s actions, which sort of put the blame for the incident solely on Groenewegen. However, Bradley Wiggins believes that’s wrong.

“Somebody told me during the week that there’s talk of a life ban for Groenewegen. The UCI need to do one on that, if I’m honest, because how do you think he feels? He might not race again because of the trauma and tragedy of what he’s done, and the self-loathing he feels of doing that, because he didn’t do it intentionally.”

What do you think we should learn from the horrific crash? Are “athletic lanes” the solution?