Toms Skujiņš' Crash at the Tour of California Raises Questions About How to Keep Cyclists Safe

Toms Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac) started stage 2 at the Amgen Tour of California with hopes of repeating his 2015 win. The 25-year-old Latvian had a good start toward making that hope a reality as the race climbed up and over Mt. Hamilton toward the finish outside of San Jose. But disaster struck for Skujins as the leaders descended off the Quimby Road climb and his front wheel slid out, sending the Cannondale rider’s head directly into the pavement and his body skidding across the tarmac at high speed.
Skujins appeared dazed as he initially tried to stand, and he immediately fell over. When he tried to mount his bike, he fell over again. Appearing to try to retrieve his Garmin which had fallen off in the second crash he continued to stumble around. Skujins, who was obviously suffering from a head injury, started to walk toward the side of the road to retrieve his bike when he was nearly clipped by more passing riders. A neutral support mechanic was able to get Skujins onto his bike, and the rider was back in the race again.
Meanwhile, there were floods of messages across social media from shocked viewers who couldn’t believe that Skujins was being allowed to continue the race.

Skujins following his Stage 2 Tour of California
Skujins following his Stage 2 Tour of California

Unfortunately his team car was some way behind with Skujins in the breakaway, and phone and TV signal wasn’t allowing the team back at the buses to see what was happening on the road.
In no way is this to blame anybody for what happened, nor is it to suggest frightening injuries don’t occur in other sports. Cycling has some unique problems to addressing concussions in the sport though. Separation is foremost, how do teams, medical staff and the UCI respond to crashes appropriately when cyclists might be spread out over a course many miles and 30+ minutes apart from one another with no TV coverage or radio? How do you perform concussion protocol on a crashed rider without erasing a hard earned breakaway? What’s the appropriate level of intervention to protect other riders from an concussed one? Should neutral support and other resources on the road be utilized in that decision making?
Luckily, Skujins’ return to action was short-lived, as his team car soon pulled alongside and coaxed him to drop out of the race.
All told Skujins suffered a concussion, broken collarbone and road rash.

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