20 cyclists taking part in a provincial championship race in Belgium yesterday were injured when they crashed into a car whose driver was making a u-turn. Three remain in hospital, one in intensive care with a head injury.
The crash happened in Wasmes on the outskirts of Colfontaine in the province of Hainault, close to the French border, reports Sudinfo.be.
It took place around 3 kilometres from the finish line during the ninth and final lap of the second of three races due to take place yesterday.
Luciano D'Antonio, mayor of Colfontaine, said that the exact cause of the crash was as yet unclear but the incident seemed to be down to “pure coincidence.”
He continued: “Rue de la Louise is on a steep slope and the runners were driving at a speed between 70 and 80 kilometres per hour.
"It was then that a mother, who was driving her car with her three children on board, turned around for an unknown reason: the first rider hit the vehicle, then his pursuers."
Three riders were reported to have sustained broken bones in the crash and four others were left concussed, with the remainder of the wounded suffering what were described as slight injuries.
The remainder of the day’s racing was cancelled, “out of respect for the injured cyclists, but also because first aid has to be performed on site,” said the mayor.
He added: “All security measures had been taken, such as signposting. The race was also accompanied by police motorcyclists.”
The incident has been referred to the prosecutor’s office in Mons, which has sent a collision examiner on site today to research the precise causes of the crash, including examining the first of the bikes that was involved and the points of impact on the vehicle.
The vehicle concerned had been parked in front of the owner’s home on the 7-kilometre circuit and on Sunday evening, the Mons public prosecutor said: “It seems that the lead vehicle had just passed when the driver made her manoeuvre.”
Her partner reportedly went back into the couple’s home and retrieved a baseball bat and has been reported for threatening gestures and carrying a prohibited weapon.
The motorist herself, aged 30 and said to be in a state of shock after the crash, could face a fine and up to a year’s imprisonment due to the standard of her driving.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.