UPDATE: Lotto-Soudal said in a statement that because of the increased intracranial pressure, Stig Broeckx had to undergo two operations on May 31 to stabilize intracranial pressure. Broeckx will be kept in an induced coma in order recover from the injuries and the surgery. The team said that at the moment, no prognosis will be made.
The fourth stage of the Baloise Tour of Belgium was canceled after a pair of motorcycles were involved in a collision and crashed into the peloton sending 19 riders to the deck and 11 to the hospital including Lotto-Soudal’s Stig Broeckx who was airlifted from the scene. The two motos were reported by Het Laatste Nieuws to have been trying to pass the peloton on a descent when the lead one came to an abrupt stop resulting in the second striking it from behind. The race was neutralized and subsequently canceled after the riders and organizers meet up.
Lotto Soudal team doctor Servaas Bingé said in a press release that Broeckx had suffered a brain injury and was in a coma.
“It was immediately clear that Stig had incurred a head injury and that he needed to be transported to a neurosurgical centre,” Bingé said. “Together with the race doctor and the medical emergency team we decided to transport him to the hospital of Aachen, which has the necessary infrastructure. A scan was taken at the hospital and it showed that Stig has two bleedings in his brain. Stig is in a non-induced coma, but for the moment he doesn’t need to undergo surgery. He doesn’t have a skull fracture, but he does have a fractured eye socket, which will be further evaluated later. At this point, it is very difficult to give a prognosis about a full recovery. The next 24 hours he will be very closely monitored.”
Incidents between professional cyclists and race motorcycles are becoming increasingly frequent. The latest crash comes just months after Belgian rider Antoine Demoitie tragically passes away after a crash with a race motorcyle at Gent-Wevelgen. Stig Broekx himself had just come back from a broken collarbone he suffered at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne when he was hit by a race moto. At the Red Hook crit in Brooklyn, a stalled motorcycle caused a massive pile-up and a scary incident at Paris-Roubaix luckily only resulted in minor injuries for one rider.
Riders took the Twitter to express their anger including Tony Martin of Etixx-Quickstep who urged new safety measures immediately and Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin.
What we need NOW is a round table with UCI, race organizers and riders to force changes and decide one safty standard for EVERY race!
— Tony Martin (@tonymartin85) May 28, 2016
Motorcyclists: we need you for our safety. We don't need you to do your own little race before a corner, trying to overtake the bunch.
— Tom Dumoulin (@tom_dumoulin) May 28, 2016
The UCI wrote on their Twitter, “The UCI has recently introduced strict new rules governing the conduct of motorcycle riders in races and we will be looking very closely at what happened today to determine whether those rules were respected.”
On Sunday, May 29, the team released an update on Broeckx’s condition.
Team doctor Servaas Bingé said, “Constant monitoring and tests showed that the intracranial pressure has slightly increased, but within acceptable limits. During the next 48 to 72 hours the increase or decrease of the intracranial pressure will be decisive for further treatment. If the intracranial pressure increases, surgery might be necessary. A decrease of the pressure would be a positive sign. The bleedings in the brain have stabilised. The condition of Stig needs to be monitored every hour and the neurosurgical team of the hospital is consulted for the treatment. The secondary injuries – fracture of the eye socket and bruised lung – don’t have a determining influence at the moment.”