Amazingly — and terrifyingly — Skujins ended up back on his bike, largely thanks to a tour staff member who helped him remount. The unnamed tour official took a lot of guff on social media afterward, with many charging that he put Skujins in additional danger.
Tour of California officials did not immediately return The Post’s request to comment.
Sujkins’s team, Cannondale-Drapac, however, appeared to admit later the Latvian should not have been allowed to continue. The team pulled its rider from the race later on Monday.
“Toms’s crash obviously had a huge impact on us today. It was a high-speed crash and unfortunately it happened at a time when the race was fragmented, which delays information and makes these situations extremely hard,” team director Tom Southam said in a statement posted to the team’s website late Monday night. “Toms instinctively continued riding but it was clear that he couldn’t go on. It’s a blow for the team and for his own ambitions but that was a serious fall, and racing can take a back seat while he heals.”
Skujins, a two-time stage winner of the Tour of California, is being watched under the team’s concussion protocol, which bars the cyclist from returning to racing for six days and to training until he can pass a cognitive test.
“Our internal concussion program is designed to slow things down and give the rider time to recover properly,” Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters, who owns the Cannondale-Drapac team, said in a statement.
“We’ll evaluate Toms daily,” he added. “His health is the most important thing to all of us.”
Skujins, meanwhile, said he is “feeling all right,” and even felt well enough to joke about his serious injuries on Twitter late Monday.
Head injuries in cycling are hardly a laughing matter, though. A 2013 study by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons found cycling accidents led to nearly 86,000 of the roughly 447,000 sports-related head injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2009. Many of these injuries were related to the improper use of helmets, although concussions can occur even when a helmet is work, as demonstrated by Skujins.
Despite the risks, races are required to have doctors and emergency responders on hand, but there appears to be no official concussion protocol.
“It is impossible to define rules to apply in all cases,” Union Cycliste International’s training guide for road commissaires says. “Every intervention by the medical services varies depending on the severity of the accident.”
UCI did not immediately return The Post’s request to comment.