Italy's rising star Samuele Manfredi – junior winner of Ghent-Wevelgem, second in Paris-Roubaix and European pursuit champion – is in hospital following a "serious head trauma" from a collision with a car while training.
Doctors medically-induced a coma after he collided with a car while he prepared for the upcoming season near his home in Loano on Monday. According to Tutto Bici, his condition improved from critical to stable on Tuesday morning.
French WorldTour team Groupama-FDJ announced the news on Monday. The 18-year-old is due to ride with their Continental feeder team in 2019.
He is being treated at the Pietra Ligure hospital, a short distance from the incident and east down the Ligurian coast from where Milan-San Remo ends each spring.
La Gazzetta dello Sport reported a "serious head trauma." He spent the night in critical condition.
The incident occurred in Toirano on Monday morning when he was six kilometres from home. Early reports say a driver behind the wheel of Fiat Panda accelerated from a stop without realising Manfredi was passing.
"It was a very violent impact," said the report.
Manfredi – 6-foot-2 and 80kg – went on a long 110km escape and conquered his two rivals to win Ghent-Wevelgem this spring. In Wevelgem, he celebrated on the podium with professional star Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
He followed it with second in the junior Paris-Roubaix and the individual pursuit title at the Junior European Championships.
His is the second such incident in two days in Italy. Paolo Simon (Bardiani-CSF) had to be air-lifted after an incident in Treviso. Doctors cleared him of head injuries and he left the hospital on Monday, one day later.
Italy's national coach said: "Every day, I read about cyclists being hit by cars. That's enough, we can't go on like this."
Aci/Istat's data for 2017 counted 254 cyclists killed due to road incidents in the year.
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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.
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