South African Keagan Girdlestone is out of a medically induced coma after a horror crash into the back of his team car’s windscreen in the Coppa della Pace 10 days ago in Sant’Ermete di Rimini, Italy.
The 19-year-old team Dimension Data for Qhubeka cyclist suffered cuts to his neck after smashing into the left side of the windscreen at 119km into the 172km race on Sunday, June 5. Due to the incident, director Raffaele Babini cancelled the race.
Girdlestone is now recovering in a Rimini hospital on Italy’s east coast, with his parents Desere and Wayne by his side.
“Keagan is currently still in intensive care, critical but a lot more stable,” his parents wrote on Facebook. “He is out of a coma and responding. The ventilator has been removed and he is breathing on his own.
“While these are all steps in the right direction, his injuries are still complicated. We are hopeful that he continues showing signs of improvement with each passing day.”
Sky’s Chris Froome, who grew up in South Africa and lives there part of the year, sent Girdlestone a message of support from the Critérium du Dauphiné last week. “We are shocked to hear the news about your crash, you really gave us a big scare,” he said. “We are wishing you a speedy recovery and hopefully we’ll see you on the road soon and back in the peloton where you belong.”
Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, who rides for the professional Dimension Data team, dedicated his stage four win to Keagan.
Keagan placed fourth in the junior world championship time trial last year in Richmond, U.S.A, and signed to ride for Dimension Data’s continental team. In the 1.2-ranked Under 23 race, he fell around 105km and raced to re-join the group.
Around 119km, shortly before the start of another circuit in Sant’Ermete di Rimini, he crashed into the rear window of his Dimension Data team car and suffered cuts around his neck and the loss of blood. It is unclear how the incident occurred, but Italian media reported a speed bump on the road near the incident.
In past years, cyclists such as Ben Swift and Vasil Kiryienka won the Coppa della Pace. This year passed without a winner, but the organiser awarded Girdlestone the winner’s medal last week.
His parents thanked the organiser and wrote, “The immediate danger has passed and now he begins what will be a long road to recovery.”