Broeckx in coma, another 11 riders injured in Belgium

BRUSSELS • The Belgian cyclist Stig Broeckx is in a coma after a crash involving two race motorcycles during the Tour of Belgium.

The 26-year-old professional was taken to hospital with suspected head injuries, along with up to 11 others involved in the collision on the third stage of the race on Saturday.

The race spokesman, Chris Vannoppen, confirmed Broeckx is in a coma and his Lotto-Soudal team added that he had been taken to a nearby hospital in Aachen, Germany.

According to Belgian sports website Sporza, 19 riders were caught up in the incident, with a dozen suffering serious enough injuries to warrant transferral to hospital.

Jesper Asselnan, Tony Hurel, Pieter Jacobs, Loic Chetout, Broeckx and Frederik Frison were all reportedly involved in the crash.

The race was initially neutralised - meaning no riders could attack - before the organisers decided to end proceedings early.

It is the second time this year that Broeckx has been involved in a collision with a motorcycle, and the latest in a series of crashes to involve motorbikes and scooters in the professional peloton.

In February's Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne race, Broeckx collided with a medical bike.

In March, the Belgian rider Antoine Demoitie died after being hit by a motorbike during the Gent-Wevelgem one-day race.

Meanwhile, a stalled motorbike caused a huge crash in the peloton just after the start of the Red Hook Criterium in New York this month.

The wave of incidents involving motorcycles, which are traditionally used to help television broadcasters cover cycling races live, has led to many participants calling for a review of their use.

Tony Martin, the world-champion time-trial cyclist who rides for Etixx Quick-Step, tweeted after the crash on Saturday: "What we need NOW is a round table with UCI (cycling's governing body), race organisers and riders to force changes and decide one safety standard for EVERY race!"

The UCI later confirmed it would review the Tour of Belgium crash, to ensure recently introduced rules governing motorbike uses were "respected".

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2016, with the headline 'Broeckx in coma, another 11 riders injured in Belgium'. Print Edition | Subscribe