In a strongly worded statement ahead of the start of stage nine, Tinkoff-Saxo said that Sagan “was hit by a reckless auxiliary motorcycle” and would be unable to continue.
The accident came in the final kilometres of stage eight. Sagan suffered wounds and burns of the first and second degree on the left side of his body, as well as a contusion on his left forearm.
According to Tinkoff-Saxo’s statement, “The team doctor, together with the sports directors at the Vuelta, decided that Sagan cannot safely continue the race with the injuries he suffered. As a result, he will fly back home as soon as possible.”
After the stage, Sagan said, “I didn’t even hear the motorbike coming. I find it unacceptable that a motorbike tries to weave its way into the group at such high speed.
“They accelerate and try to sneak in when they see an empty space. However, they don’t take into consideration that a rider might fall in front of them or change direction. They go extremely fast and the difference of speed compared to the riders is enormous.”
Sagan reacted angrily to the incident, and was later fined for abusive language.
“Last but not least, I go back to the team hotel and I read I was fined 300 francs for insults and threats as well as behavior that damages the image of cycling,” said Sagan. “I will, obviously, pay it but I consider it unjust.”
Stage eight of the Vuelta was marred with crashes. Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal) is in a medically induced coma after hitting a pot-hole while drinking from his bidon. He suffered serious facial trauma, with several fractures, as well as concussion, three broken ribs, and bleeding in his lung.
Boeckmans’s crash also affected several other riders. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) and Nacer Bouhanni (Confidis) sustained injuries in the same incident, and were also forced to retire from the race.
Stage eight was won by Jasper Stuyven (Trek Factory Racing), while Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) holds the overall lead.