Friday, July 14, 2006

Shoulda worn a helmet

Is two-time Giro d’Italia champion Paolo Savoldelli now out of the Tour de France because he made the dumbass mistake of not wearing his bike helmet after the stage yesterday? I'm not certain, but it sure sounds that way:

"Discovery team director Dirk Demol gave us some more info on Paolo Savoldelli, who abandoned earlier today. "We [were] driving up the Pla-de-Beret and suddenly we saw a rider standing next to the road with a rag to his head. I hoped it wasn't Paolo, but of course it was him. Paolo said that a fan suddenly, unintentionally, jumped on the road. He couldn’t brake anymore and crashed into the person. He hit the ground with his head. We rode back down immediately to investigate the wound. He needed ten stitches and has got quite a headache now."

From all accounts, this injury could have been prevented with a proper bike helmet.

A dispatch from a spectator who was present on the site at Val d’Aran - Pla-de-Beret that day (who also happens to be a triathlete and medical doctor):

"Ok, this is really dumb, but this is what they were doing - they got to the top. A few teams put vans there, all had to leave their buses about 5km from the top. So they could wait for the van, or ride their bikes down. The police won't let any cars on the road for an hour or so. So they come down with the 150,000 people lining the crowd. And this is the retarded part - they were riding no helmets (one of the Disco boys gave his hat to a fan at the bus, asked for another guys hat to give to that fan's friend - they both had them on, no helmets) and it gets mo stoopid. They were riding the descent NO HANDS!!!!! It was steeper than the yellow lake descent. I'd buy that they can handle a bike way way way better than me with no hands on the bars, and can do it. But with 150,000 morons going down at the same time? There were the usual yahoos, kids on mountain bikes, bikes deeking left around a stopped car, some right, some both ways.... Not surprising what happened."

Savoldelli is pictured at left after a crash cycling in the mountains in 2003, following which he needed reconstructive facial surgery. I don't see any helmets in the photo, either. Yes, he should have known better.

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