Giant-Alpecin seek 'closure' with British driver who caused training crash

Two legal cases pending against 73-year-old British woman who drove her car into the Giant-Alpecin team while they were training in Spain during January

(Image credit: Watson)

Team Giant-Alpecin are 'looking for closure' with two forthcoming legal cases against a British woman who drove head-on into six of their riders during a training ride in January.

The 73-year-old was charged after she ran into the cyclists, including star John Degenkolb, while they trained inland from Spain's Costa Blanca. She faces a criminal case in Dénia and a civil case for damages.

"We just hope that after what was already a traumatic situation that the insurance company will deal with it in a good way," Giant-Alpecin General Manager Iwan Spekenbrink told Cycling Weekly.

"It's not just the damages requested, but people need closure. We go training in Calpe, other teams do too, teams go there to chase new goals, but if you go there and re-live trauma, that's not what you want. We need closure and need to get this behind us."

Spekenbrink would not say how much the team's lawyer, which is representing the six riders, is seeking in damages.

The woman was formally charged on April 29 with imprudence and recklessness. The criminal case will begin in December.

10 June 2016 68th Criterium du Dauphine Stage 05 : La Ravoire - Vaujany DEGENKOLB John (GER) Giant - Alpecin Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

John Degenkolb missed the 2016 spring classics after the training incident, and could not defend his Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix titles. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

She crossed from the opposite side of the CV-720 provincial road leading to Alicante, near Benigembla, and drove into Giant's elite group. German John Degenkolb, winner of the 2015 Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix, suffered a fractured forearm and nearly lost his left index finger. American Chad Haga fractured his eye socket, Max Walscheid his tibia and thumb.

"We all could have died," said Frenchman Warren Barguil, who broke his left scaphoid. Teammates Fredrik Ludvigsson and Ramon Sinkeldam were also involved. A seventh cyclist, Søren Kragh Andersen avoided the car.

"Parallel to the hearing in December, our lawyer is speaking to those with the insurance company," Spekenbrink said. "The lady is also a victim, she's in her 70s, she didn't want to cause such trauma to a group of 20-year-olds.

"We can only hope that the insurance company will show a human side. We hope for the team, for the riders and for the lady, that we can get this behind us."

All six cyclists involved returned to racing this season, Walscheid won five stages in last week's Tour of Hainan. However, the incident meant that Giant were without their ace Degenkolb in the spring classics and lost important WorldTour points. They finished 16th in the rankings.

Degenkolb next year will race for Trek-Segafredo. Sunweb-Giant, the team's name for 2017, will bring in Michael Matthews from team Orica-BikeExchange. They plan to return to Calpe for their training camps regardless of the traumatic incident.

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.