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A horrific bike crash at the finish line of the Tour de Pologne left one of the world's best cyclists in a coma and needing facial reconstructive surgery

INSIDER logoINSIDER 8/6/2020 insider@insider.com (Meredith Cash)
a group of people riding on the back of a bicycle: In a "dirty" move, Dylan Groenewegen drove Fabio Jakobsen over the side panels, forcing him into a race official stationed next to the finish line. AP Photo/Tomasz Markowski © Provided by INSIDER In a "dirty" move, Dylan Groenewegen drove Fabio Jakobsen over the side panels, forcing him into a race official stationed next to the finish line. AP Photo/Tomasz Markowski
  • During the final stretch of the Tour de Pologne bike race's first stage, Team Jumbo-Visma cyclist Dylan Groenewegen lowered his shoulder and drove fellow Dutch racer, Fabio Jakobsen, over the panels at over 50 mph.
  • A massive pileup ensued, leaving multiple competitors with injuries and a race official unconscious from his impact with Jakobsen.
  • Jakobsen was airlifted to the hospital, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma and endured more than five hours of facial reconstructive surgery, per Cycling News.
  • Groenewegen was disqualified from the race, and Jakobsen was declared the winner of the competition's first leg.
  • "I hate what happened yesterday," Groenewegen wrote via Twitter. "I can't find the words to describe how sorry I am for Fabio and others who have been crashed or hit."
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A brutal, high-speed crash during the first leg of the Tour de Pologne bike race left one of the world's best cyclists in a coma and another disqualified from the event.

Dylan Groenewegen (right) sparks a pileup at the Tour de Pologne. Luc Claessen/Getty Images © Luc Claessen/Getty Images Dylan Groenewegen (right) sparks a pileup at the Tour de Pologne. Luc Claessen/Getty Images

As the leaders of the pack sprinted to the finish line to cap off the first day of competition, Team Jumbo-Visma cyclist Dylan Groenewegen lowered his shoulder and drove fellow Dutch racer, Fabio Jakobsen, over the side panels, where Jakobsen smashed into a race official who was stationed adjacent to the finish line.

Both competitors were moving at roughly 50 mph when the crash took place. Video replays of the collision reveal a horrifying scene that depicts the perils of racing at such high speeds.

Another video — apparently captured by a spectator on the scene — shows just how quickly the disaster transpired.

Unsurprisingly, a massive pileup ensued, leaving multiple other competitors wounded. Although Groenewegen skidded many feet across the blacktop after flying off of his bike, the worst of his injuries included some scratches and bruising.

a person is walking down the street: Dylan Groenewegen was left with some scratches and bruising after Wednesday's Tour de Pologne crash. Luc Claessen/Getty Images © Luc Claessen/Getty Images Dylan Groenewegen was left with some scratches and bruising after Wednesday's Tour de Pologne crash. Luc Claessen/Getty Images

Jakobsen, meanwhile, was airlifted to the Santa Barbara Hospital in Sosnowiec, Poland, just after the collision, per Cycling News. Shortly after his arrival, doctors placed the UCI WorldTeam Deceuninck–Quick-Step sprinter in a medically-induced coma. He has since endured more than five hours of facial reconstructive surgery.

"I followed the situation from the beginning," Tour de Pologne race director Czeslaw Lang said in a statement released by the event's organizers. "I have just come back from the Sosnowiec Santa Barbara Hospital. After speaking with the director, I can say that I am somewhat relieved. After seeing the crash, we feared the worst, but now we know that the situation is serious but stabilized." 

a person standing next to a bus: Fabio Jakobsen was airlifted to the hospital after suffering significant injuries in the crash. Grzegorz Celejewski/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS © Grzegorz Celejewski/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS Fabio Jakobsen was airlifted to the hospital after suffering significant injuries in the crash. Grzegorz Celejewski/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS

The race official with whom Jakobsen collided was knocked unconscious upon impact and was also transported to the hospital. He suffered a head injury, according to Lang, but is now in stable condition.

Though Groenewegen crossed the finish line first, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) — the world governing body of the sport — deemed his actions "unacceptable" and officially awarded Jakobsen with the win after disqualifying his opponent from the race.

"The UCI has found the behaviour of Dylan Groenewegen unacceptable, and has disqualified the Jumbo-Visma rider, assigning the stage victory to Fabio Jakobsen," race organizers said in a statement.

a group of people riding on the back of a bicycle: Multiple cyclists were injured in Wednesday's crash at the Tour de Pologne. Luc Claessen/Getty Images © Luc Claessen/Getty Images Multiple cyclists were injured in Wednesday's crash at the Tour de Pologne. Luc Claessen/Getty Images

Groenewegen issued an apology via Twitter, writing that he "can't find the words to describe how sorry I am for Fabio and others who have been crashed or hit."

"I hate what happened yesterday," he added. "At the moment, the health of Fabio is the most important thing. I think about him constantly."

While many have condemned Groenewegen for the "dirty action," others have noted that the structure of the course may be partially to blame for the disastrous extent of the crash. Former racer Robbie McEwen noted that Jakobsen "didn't deflect back into the road" after hitting the side barriers.

"He went straight through them," McEwen told CyclingNews. "That's really poor planning, not just from the organizers themselves but the UCI, and they have to take responsibility for that."

A video comparing Wednesday's contact between Groenewegen and Jakobsen to a similar incident at the Tour de France perfectly illustrates McEwen's point.

The second stage of the Tour de Pologne went on as scheduled Thursday, albeit without Jakobsen, Groenewegen, and a few other cyclists injured in the crash. Doctors hope to bring Jakobsen back to consciousness in the coming days, while Groenewegen waits to learn of any impending disciplinary action against him.

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