European cyclists hit by truck

Laurens de Plus, Petr Vakoc and Bob Jungles.

PILGRIM’S REST – The accident occurred around 14:00 on Thursday. The 37-year-old was driving a bakery truck.

Czech rider, Petr Vakoč and Belgian cyclist, Laurens de Plus, of Team Quick-Step Floors, are both in Mediclinic Nelspruit following the incident.

The riders were training in and around the Lowveld for more than two weeks.

“It is our first trip to South Africa. The altitude in the Lowveld is perfect for training conditions. We did enjoy our stay, but unfortunately the accident made this an unpleasant experience,” said team trainer, Koen Pelgrim.

The two cyclists, with Bob Jungles (Luxembourg road bicycle racer for Quick-Step Floors), were on the road when a truck came from behind and hit Vakoč and De Plus, sending them onto the tarmac.
Both riders were immediately transported to hospital.

De Plus had multiple abrasions and a minor pulmonary and kidney contusion. The Czech rider was less fortunate. Scans showed several fractured vertebrae, which required surgery the following morning.

Vakoč on Saturday posted on Facebook that he is grateful for the incredible support he has been receiving.

“Happy to share with you that my appetite is healthy already. Huge thanks to the medical staff of the hospital and ambulance who have been doing an amazing job. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of messages and encouragement I have received from all of you. Thank you. I really appreciate it.”

He will remain in hospital before travelling back to Europe.

Petr Vakoc, Laurens de Plus, Koen Pelgrim and Bob Jungles.

In a statement that was released on Q.ST Pro Cycling Team’s website, Jungles explains what happened.

“The three of us were out training, when suddenly I heard a loud noise and then the following second I saw Laurens and Petr on the ground. I did not see the truck coming from behind, but it must have hit them with the left front mirror or even the front left part. I ran to them and could see they were injured. I did not dare to move them. A lady who was on the side of the road came and helped us, calling the ambulance, while our trainer Koen and I spoke with them. It was really tough to see them like that and I hope they will get over this difficult moment soon. I wish them a fast recovery.”

Spokesman for community safety, security and liaison, Zandile Mandlazi, said the accused was released on a warning and will appear again tomorrow in the Pilgrim’s Rest Magistrate’s Court.

Carli Koch
Sports Editor

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