Uno-X's trouble at the go-kart track – and four other times that off-bike fun went wrong

The Norwegian team is only the latest in a long line of those who find that pro-team off-season 'fun' is sometimes anything but

Anders Halland Johannessen
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Two riders from the Norwegian Uno-X pro cycling were hospitalised recently after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning while indulging in a bit of pre-season team-building.

The riders – Anders Halland Johannessen and Jonas Iversby Hvideberg – had been karting with team-mates and staff near Copenhagen. They had spent several hours inside the venue without a break, which unfortunately had entailed breathing in a lot of exhaust fumes.

"I was so excited. Go-karting is the most fun I know," Halland Johannessen told Norwegian outlet TV2, "so I was inside the hall the whole time and never went outside to take a break or get some fresh air."

It was only on the way back to the hotel that the pair began to feel ill, but it wasn't long before Iversby Hvideberg was lying in the fetal position on his hotel bed with a severe headache, with his team-mate Halland Johanessen being sick in the next room.

A quick once-over by the team doctor saw them quickly dispatched to hospital where carbon-monoxide was diagnosed and the pair were treated with oxygen. They also spent time in the pressure chamber at Copenhagen's national hospital to help flush the deadly gas out of the blood stream.

Thankfully, they have been left with no last effects and are ready to take on the coming season.

Professional cyclists are serious people – at least for 11 months of the year. They have to be. Reaching the peak of physical fitness and staying there is a lifestyle that doesn't stop when you pass the chequered flag.

But, at the end of the season the seriousness (almost) stops for a month or so, and our monk-like pros are allowed off the leash – sometimes with eye-brow raising results and even consequences that might make them wish they'd just stuck to the training. Occasions like these, for instance…

Off-piste in a big way

Stuart O'Grady at the 2011 Tour Down Under

(Image credit: Getty Images / Morne de Klerk)

For some reason, skiing seems to be one of the go-to choices when it comes to off-season team activities. Never mind the fact that the chances of taking yourself out of play for half the season with a broken bone or two are reasonably high.

That's exactly what happened to former Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O'Grady in 2010. He had what he described as a "fairly huge crash" and broke two ribs at a team training camp in December 2010, as he prepared for the coming season with Team Leopard-Trek.

The consequences weren't too long-term though, and the Aussie was able to make a tentative foray at the Tour Down Under, and went on to show well at the Classics, with top-10s at Milan-San Remo and E3 in 2011.

A raft of problems

Luke Rowe at the 2019 Paris-Nice

(Image credit: Getty Images / Justin Setterfield)

Luke Rowe could not, unfortunately, enjoy the same swift recovery that O'Grady did when he broke his leg whitewater rafting in 2017. Rather than a team bonding exercise, the mishap took place on his brother's stag do – it wasn't even in the off-season either, but it's definitely an off-season type of activity, so forgive us for shoehorning it in here.

Rowe managed to fracture both shin bones – the tibia and fibula – when he jumped into the water. He was forced to take seven months out from racing but returned with a cautious outing at the Abu Dhabi Tour the following February.

Jumbo-Visma stay apart to get together

Jumbo-Visma training ahead of the 2021 Tour de France

(Image credit: Getty Images / Thomas Samson)

Any training camp carries a degree of risk, whether you're holding a base-jumping taster session or just a good old-fashioned team bike ride. But ahead of the 2021 season Jumbo-Visma were criticised for risking the very idea of a pre-season get-together.

These were risks that were very much of their time – in fact they wouldn't have even been dreamed of just a few years before. Covid. Media and fans alike poured scorn on the team for risking spreading the virus during what was still a very challenging time globally on that front, with much of the early part of the year seeing the UK still in lockdown, for example.

But Jumbo-Visma's 'get-together' was more of a 'stay-apart', with masks worn, no handshakes allowed, and different squads eating in different parts of the hotel.

A twist of fate saw the team forced to abandon its camp the following year after a rider tested positive.

A night to forget

Iljo Keisse after having taken a tribute at the Gent Six-Day 2022

(Image credit: Getty Images / Mark Van Hecke)

When Quick Step told its riders to go out and have some end-of-season fun together at the end of 2017, they were almost certainly unprepared for it to end up in a court case which took four years to resolve. The Belgian team's riders had earned their downtime that season – they were still the Classics team to beat back then, and had won the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and a frankly ridiculous 16 Grand Tour stages.

So the last thing they, or their team bosses expected or wanted was for them to become dragged into a nightclub brawl – and one that culminated in rider Iljo Keisse being knocked unconscious by a TV presenter, Melvin Klooster. 

Keisse had intervened after watching the fight, and was dealt a blow to the head by Klooster, falling to the floor and severing tendons in his finger on glass shards.

Klooster was eventually sentenced to two years in prison and made to pay substantial damages to Keisse, but it took very nearly four years.

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