MILAN • Italian Luca Wackermann was forced to withdraw from the Giro d’Italia with multiple injuries following a big crash in Tuesday’s fourth stage caused by a low-flying helicopter.

The crash, which brought down Wackermann and Dutchman Etienne van Empel of the Vini Zabu-KTM team, happened at the end of the stage when a barrier was blown over by the draft from the helicopter and struck the two riders.

A statement from the Italian team said Wackermann, 28, had suffered a concussion due to a head injury, as well as a broken nose and multiple contusions to the face, chin and right knee.

He also had multiple bruises on his arms and legs and a suspected back fracture.

“Wackermann will spend the night in the hospital kept under observation and losing that chance to live a dream vanished because of an episode that could have brought some heavier consequences,” added the statement.

Vini Zabu team boss Angelo Citracca also said that Wakermann “was barely conscious” when he was sent to the hospital.

“The helicopter was flying too low, the movement of the air blew up the barriers,” he added.

Meanwhile, van Empel took to social media to confirm he was fine.

“I am OK. Only some small cuts on my fingers,” he tweeted.

“Not really sure what happened but out of nowhere, the barriers flew into our group. For now, my thoughts are with my teammate Luca and hope some good news will arrive soon.”

Giro organisers RCS Sport has reported that it was caused by a helicopter that was being used by Italian state broadcaster RAI.

“Our delegate is investigating what happened today at the Giro,” stated riders’ group, the CPA.

“Clearly whoever caused this serious and unacceptable accident will have to take responsibility.”

On Monday, Ineos Grenadiers team leader and 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas pulled out of the Giro after suffering a fractured pelvis in a crash before the start of the third stage, which was caused when the front wheel of the Welshman’s bicycle hit a feeding bottle while he was riding at full speed.

The Giro is one of cycling’s Grand Tours along with the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.

REUTERS

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