It happens all too often, but this time, when a bicycle and an auto collided, the cyclist who took the worst of the impact was Bradley Wiggins, England’s national hero as winner of the Tour de France and gold medalist in the Olympic time trial last summer.
Wiggins, 32, suffered broken ribs and hand and wrist injuries, according to Bikebiz.com, in the accident, which occurred near a gas station in Wrightington, a village in the northern county of Lancashire.
“We can confirm that on Wednesday evening Bradley Wiggins was involved in a road traffic accident whilst riding his bike near his home in Lancashire,” Team Sky said in a statement on its website. “He is being kept in hospital overnight for observation, but the injuries he has sustained are not thought to be serious and he is expected to make a full and speedy recovery. We will announce more details in due course.”
Wiggins was released from the hospital this morning.
He and the van collided as the van pulled out of a gas station. An attendant, Yasmin Smith, told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph that she heard screeching tires and a loud bang. Wiggins, Smith said, was in “a lot of pain.”
“I came straight outside to see a gentleman sat on the pavement, but I didn’t realize who he was. I just went over to help. The ambulance and the police had been called. [The driver] was very upset, even more upset when the police actually said: ‘Do you realize who you’ve hit?’ That really put her back, because obviously she felt bad enough.”
Wiggins’s wife, Cath, arrived quickly.
“By the time I got there he had moved to a safer place but was still on the ground and he was in a lot of pain,” Smith said. “He said he thought he had broken his ribs and while a lot of police cars arrived it was about 15 minutes before the ambulance got there, by which time he was blue.”
A national hero, “Wiggo” is a colorful guy who celebrated his Tour win by getting “blind drunk” and is the subject of a campaign to be knighted. “Sir Wiggo — it doesn’t quite sound right, does it?” he admitted in August. “It is what it is and as much as it is an honor to receive something like that, I don’t think I would ever use it and I would just put in a drawer. I will always just be Brad.”
The van’s driver was questioned by police but not arrested after another of England’s “SMIDSY” (“Sorry, mate, I didn’t see you.”) accidents. “This collision should act as a reminder to all drivers that we need to be more vigilant particularly when pulling out of entrances and turning at junctions,” Edmund King, Automobile Association president, said (via the Guardian). “With autumnal weather and darker evenings it is essential to check and double-check for cyclists, pedestrians and indeed other road users before pulling out. We need to break down the ‘two-tribe’ mentality on the roads and co-exist in harmony.”
The driver was heard to say (via the Telegraph), “I can’t believe it. Of all the people to hit, bloody Bradley Wiggins.”