Cyclist sues Bianchi for £1m after his forks snapped during sportive

The father-of-three was left in hospital for 18 days with head injuries

(Image credit: Andy Jones)

A cyclist is suing bike builder Bianchi for £1m after his forks snapped during a sportive, leaving him with brain damage.

Donald O’Driscoll, 55, was riding in the 2015 Velothon Wales when the forks on his £800 Bianchi Via Nirone 7 “fractured in half,” a court has heard, sending him flying into a ditch.

The electrical engineer and father-of-three was left in hospital for 18 days and says he suffered a traumatic blunt head injury, fractured shoulder, cracked ribs and lung damage, The Daily Mirror reports. (opens in new tab)

Mr O’Driscoll, from Cardiff, is now suing the Italian bike builder Bianchi, as his lawyers argue the bike “fell below the level of safety he expected of the product.”

Having owned the bike for a year before the crash, Mr O’Driscoll had not used the machine at all between November 2014 and March 2015, keeping it stored in his garage, his lawyers said.

The High Court in London heard he had the bike serviced in November 2014, then again two weeks before the race when the tyres were changed.

According to Mr O’Driscoll’s lawyers the liability for the accident is not disputed by Bianchi, but the company is contesting the amount of compensation being claimed.

The court heard that in the crash, which happened in June 2015, Mr O’Driscoll was travelling at around 20mph when his forks snapped and he was sent flying into a ditch.

He hit a wooden post, was knocked unconscious and suffered multiple injuries, he said.

Mr O’Driscoll then returned to part-time work in October 2015, but he still suffers from the effects of his injuries, according to his lawyers.

The bike was bought through his employer EDF Energy’s cycle to work scheme, the court heard.

Bike builder FIV Edoardo Bianchi SpA, more commonly known as Bianchi, is the oldest bike manufacturer in the world, dating back to 1885.

Bianchi, based in Milan, has been previously associated with riders like Fausto Coppi and Marco Pantani, and is now the bike sponsor for WorldTour squad Jumbo-Visma.

Judge Bard, who was sitting for the pre-trial directions, did not fix a date for the trial to begin.

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.