Sunweb rider Edo Maas may never walk again after he crashed into a car that had entered the course during a race.
The 19-year-old collided with the vehicle while descending the famous Madonna del Ghisallo during Il Piccolo Lombardia in Italy earlier this month.
Maas, from the Netherlands, was rushed to hospital with fractures to his neck, back and face, and was unconscious for a number of days.
Sunweb have released an update, saying Maas was now conscious but that his injuries have led to loss of feeling in his legs and he may never walk again.
A statement from the team, released on Thursday (October 17), said: “Edo is now fully conscious and has been awake for a couple of days, and is responding well to family and visiting team mates. The fractures to his back and the injuries on his face required multiple intensive surgeries over the last week, all of which were successful.
“Edo is currently processing the diagnosis that the fracture in his back has led to paraplegia, a loss of nerve feeling in his legs.
“At this moment, it remains unlikely that functionality in his legs will ever return, but fighting power and hope prevails.”
Maas crashed when a car entered the course of the Italian under-23 race Il Piccolo Lombardia on October 6.
Sunweb has called on the UCI to act in order to improve race safety.
The team’s statement said: “Whilst this won’t undo this devastating tragedy, we once again call upon our governing body (UCI), to prioritise all of their time and resources on securing and ensuring the implementation of safe race conditions for teams and their riders.
“This week has been extremely difficult for the Team Sunweb family, of which Edo and his loved ones are and will always remain a central part.
“We send all of our strength and prayers to them at this difficult time.”
Maas joined the Sunweb development squad at the start of 2019, having impressed with victory in the junior E3 Harelbeke in 2017.
He joined the team with the intention of going on to ride the Belgian Classics, while balancing racing with his studies of physiotherapy.