Race organisers and the cycling governing body need to “really focus on safety,” says Team Sunweb after 19-year-old Edo Maas was left paralysed following a crash in Il Piccolo Lombardia.
Maas crashed racing the Under 23 version of the Italian Monument for Sunweb, which had an impact on the WorldTour team and riders throughout the international peloton.
“It’s a very, very serious incident and it’s affected the team and Edo’s family and friends greatly,” Matt Winston, Sunweb’s sports director, told Cycling Weekly.
“We can’t put enough emphasis on rider safety. There’s no secret the world’s getting busier, the sport is also getting bigger. Organisers and the UCI need to, to really focus in there in the coming years on how we really make courses safe, how we close down courses, and have the correct number of marshals.
“We need to avoid accidents like this and try and make it as safe as possible for the riders.”
A car reportedly got onto the course as Maas descended the famous Ghisallo climb, an incident that is still under investigation.
Maas may never walk again. The Dutchman was left with fractures to his neck, back and face, and was unconscious for a number of days, with the team saying it “led to paraplegia, a loss of nerve feeling in his legs.”
“I do know you hit a car that shouldn’t have been on the course at that point. And yeah, it’s hard to close down courses, but I think the organisers may need to reevaluate the kind of courses that they use today,” said Winston.
Winston was speaking in China where he is currently at the Tour of Guangxi where very metre of most stages a worker stands on the side of the road keeping fans at a safe distance.
“It’s really, really well managed. It’s super safe, marshals every few metres but I guess that’s not sustainable in Europe. We do need to come up with another way of how we educate the public when there’s a bike race. Do we have enough signage up telling people there’s a bike race?
“I don’t always think that’s the case either. Or you just see this one marshal on a junction. We need to make sure there’s plenty of signage, plenty of marshals and really kind of get our heads together.”
Sunweb rider Maximilian Walscheid, not racing in China, felt the impact greatly. He was racing in Poland when Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto-Soudal) died this summer and knows Maas well.
“Not just in the riders but also in some of the staff members. It really had a big effect,” Winston explained. “It was a big shock to some of the guys.”