The Ironman in Hamburg has been overshadowed by a serious accident. A motorcycle collided with an amateur triathlete on the bike course. The 70-year-old motorcyclist succumbed to his injuries at the scene of the accident, police said. The race continued. EM gold went to Denis Chevrot, Jan Frodeno was fourth.
In view of the death of the motorcyclist, however, the sporting result on Sunday was of secondary importance. The 27-year-old athlete involved in the tragic incident suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries. A 50-year-old cameraman on the escort motorcycle was slightly injured and in shock. Both were taken to the hospital.
The accident happened on the Spadenland main dike in the Hamburg district of Ochsenwerder. The police said there was no further information about the cause of the accident. After the accident, ARD decided to stop broadcasting the Ironman European
I was right next to it and saw the bike shatter into what felt like a thousand pieces,” said a visibly touched Frodeno in the ARD interview. He only found out about the motorcyclist’s death at the finish line and expressed his condolences to the motorcyclist’s relatives.
Frodeno: “Safety must come first”
The 41-year-old had already had a bad feeling on the way out of the city. “I told the referee 15 kilometers in advance that this would not end well,” said the 2008 Olympic champion. “I know that this always has to be covered by the media, but athlete safety must come first.”
According to NDR information, the organizers discussed whether the event should be canceled, but this decision had to be made in the USA, according to the organizers on site in Hamburg. The World Triathlon Corporation, which owns the “Ironman” brand and markets it worldwide, is based in Tampa (Florida).
The organizers only made a public statement hours after the tragedy: “It is with great regret that we have to confirm the death of the motorcyclist due to a serious medical event,” said the World Triathlon Corporation statement. “Our thoughts and concerns are with the family who we will support as much as we can during this difficult time.”
State Councilor for Sport Holstein: Couldn’t have stopped
Hamburg’s State Councilor for Sport Christoph Holstein told NDR that “a shadow had fallen over the sports weekend” and added: “We are all still in shock.” Holstein started the race himself in the morning. According to him, the city or the police could not have ended the race: “The police can cancel events if there is a concrete danger to life and limb. Only then do the police and the city have the opportunity, we are intervening here now.”
A few questions now need to be answered. However, he declined to comment on the details. You have to be patient and wait for the results of the police investigation. However, he also pointed out that this route had been driven for years: “It worked for a long time. Today was the first time we had an accident – and then a very bad one.”
No award ceremony for European Champion Chevrot
Despite the death, the competition was not abandoned. Frodeno finished fourth in his last race on German soil in 7:31:39 hours. Victory went to defending champion Chevrot (7:26:21) from France ahead of Belgium’s Pieter Heemeryck (7:31:01) and Kristian Högenhaus (7:31:12) from Denmark. However, the official award ceremony was cancelled, and the EM party planned for the evening was cancelled.
The accident happened at around 8.45 a.m. on a straight stretch where the road is used in both directions, so the field passes closely by each other. Shortly after the turning point of the bike course, the support motorcycle, on which a cameraman was sitting behind the driver, collided head-on with the cyclist. Numerous rescue workers and a rescue helicopter were deployed.
When the field reached the scene of the accident again on the second lap, all triathletes had to dismount and pass the scene of the accident on foot on the dike because the route was still closed.
“Far too many motorcycles on the road”
In the ARD live broadcast, former Ironman world champion Sebastian Kienle said as a co-commentator: “There are far too many motorcycles on the road.” There had been concerns even before the race because of the narrow bike course in some places. And Frodeno also underlined: “It was a complete farce. It was so incredibly tight, there are no motorcycles allowed.”