A horrific accident on the bike section of IRONMAN Hamburg on Sunday left a motorcycle operator dead and an official race photographer and race participant injured and receiving treatment in hospital.
The incident happened at around 0840 local time (0740 UK, 0240 Eastern Time) when the leaders in the men-only professional race were riding in the opposite direction to the age-group athletes on the two-lap bike course.
Official IRONMAN statement
IRONMAN released the following details around five hours later, at 1329 local time, just before the race – which had continued – finished:
“At 36km of the IRONMAN Hamburg bike course, a motorcycle race vehicle, carrying an official race photographer, was involved in a collision with a race participant.
“It is with our deepest regret to confirm the passing of the motorcycle operator from a significant medical event. Our thoughts and care are with the family whom we will support as we are able while they go through this difficult time.
“The race participant and the photographer received onsite care, before being transported to a nearby hospital where they continue to receive treatment.
“We thank the safety personnel and first responders who attended the scene to assist those involved in the incident.
“IRONMAN is continuing to work through the situation with local authorities. The health and wellness of all those involved in the event is paramount, and we will continue to produce the safest event possible with all stakeholders.”
Photographer released from hospital
IRONMAN then issued an updated statement at 2030 local time, adding more details, including the fact the race photographer had by then been released from hospital.
It read: “It is with a heavy heart that we confirmed the passing of a motorcycle operator during the IRONMAN European Championship Hamburg. At 36km of the IRONMAN Hamburg bike course, a credentialled motorcycle race vehicle collided with an age group athlete who was riding on the racecourse in the opposite oncoming lane.
“An event photographer on the motorcycle, who was also injured during the collision, has since been released from hospital. The race participant remains in hospital for further treatment.
“We are devastated by this tragic accident. On a day meant to be a celebration of the human spirit, we instead mourn the loss of a member of our triathlon community. Our sympathies are with all those affected. Our priority always is ensuring the safety of our participants and those involved in the event. A police investigation is ongoing, and we are cooperating with local authorities to understand the events that lead to the accident.”
Race reaches its conclusion
The race – which is this season’s European Championship for men and involved modern-day great Jan Frodeno – did continue, as did IRONMAN’s live YouTube broadcast. It was won by Frenchman Denis Chevrot, with Frodeno fourth.
But in the circumstances that obviously felt meaningless and all our thoughts are with those involved and affected by the terrible accident.
After the race, former IRONMAN World Champion Sebastian Kienle – who had been commentating on proceedings for German TV – expressed his sadness at Sunday’s events.
Sebi wrote on Instagram: “Sad day, my thoughts are with the family and friends of the motorbiker who lost his life, with the others involved in the incident…”
German broadcaster ARD ended its live stream of the race following the tragic accident as a mark of respect.