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Barguil: ‘We all could have died … it’s chilling’

MILAN (VN) — All Giant – Alpecin cyclists involved in a head-on collision with a car last weekend could have died, says French climber Warren Barguil.

Barguil was one of the six cyclists hit by a 73-year-old British woman, along with American Chad Haga, 2015 Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix winner John Degenkolb, Fredrik Ludvigsson, Ramon Sinkeldam, and Max Walscheid.

Walscheid will need months — and likely surgery — to recover from his fractured tibia and thumb. Degenkolb, who only just left the hospital, nearly lost his left index finger and broke his forearm. Haga remains in the hospital, but fortunately he will not need an operation on his fractured eye socket.

“We laughed about it in the first two to three days, maybe to avoid the drama, but since [Tuesday], I began to realize that we all could have died,” Barguil said at a press conference, reports L’Equipe. “When I think about it, it’s chilling.”

Barguil met with journalists in Brittany, France to talk about the incident that left him with a fractured left scaphoid. The 24-year-old, who placed 14th in the 2015 Tour de France, must undergo surgery Thursday and faces at least six weeks out of competition.

He said the incident Saturday happened on the first day of Giant’s training camp in Calpe, Spain, a hotbed for cycling teams and British tourists in the winter months. The woman was driving the wrong way on the CV-720 provincial road that leads toward the coastal town of Alicante in a British-style, right-hand drive car.

“We were quietly returning to our hotel, making a few sets of sprints on a long straight. I was in the front group when I saw a car 300 meters up the road that was in the left lane. I first though thought she was coming a bit fast, but it was not that — she was in the left lane and continued to stay there,” Barguil explained.

“She braked at first impact. I tried to go to the right, but there was a stone embankment, and I was the first to crash, while John [Degenkolb] was behind me. We were all on the ground and in shock. One of us managed to avoid the car, he called for help and took an arm-warmer to make a tourniquet. It was not easy, it was real chaos.”

Barguil’s season schedule included the Ardennes classics, the Tour de France, the Olympics, and the Vuelta a España. He must now re-evaluate his plans after undergoing surgery.

“I’ll have to have a full week of rest after surgery I think. I must not rush things, we must first think about recovering from this accident,” Barguil said. “Regarding my goals, the Ardennes, the Tour, Rio, and the Vuelta — there might be a small inconvenience, but I don’t think that it’s a real problem. April is still far away.”