James Fouché and Jenna Merrick have sustained nasty injuries, with the former now forced to withdraw from the upcoming U23 Giro d’Italia due to concussion.
The Giro Ciclistico d’Italia is the biggest race in U23 cycling and last year saw James Fouché complete the nine-day race for the second time in his career. The same year saw New Zealand’s favourite Aussie – Robert Stannard – take victory in the final stage and also claim third overall in the race; and he would later join Mitchelton-SCOTT’s World Tour team.
This year Fouché has had an eclectic season with Team Wiggins Le Col that has yielded plenty of success that started in Napier with U23 national time trial gold and then the national crown in the road race. Following on from that came a string of king of the mountains classification wins at the Tour of Antalya, Volta ao Alentejo and Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux; three KOM wins in three stage races. In that time the 21 year old also had time to take top ten places in one-day races in Portugal and Belgium – including sixth in Gent Wevelgem Nations Cup.
His build up to the Giro Ciclistico d’Italia was solid, with Fouché taking fifth place overall in A Travers les Hauts de France and then following that up with a solid 14th place in Paris-Roubaix Espoirs. Fouché’s race was far from straightforward, with the national champion among those to take a tumble over the course of the day; making his 14th place even more impressive.
Sadly though, Fouché took to Twitter to announce that because of the ongoing aftermath of a head knock sustained in Paris-Roubaix he would not be lining up for his third consecutive edition of Giro Ciclistico d’Italia, saying, “Gutted to have to pull out of the u23 Giro which starts this week due to a concussion from my crash at u23 Roubaix last week. On the bright side at least I know now there is something there to damage.”
Fouché is not the only Kiwi to have sustained nasty injuries of late, with Mike Greer Homes Women’s Cycling’s Jenna Merrick also coming a cropper with a bad crash in Belgium. The team are currently racing in Belgium and Merrick, who starred in this year’s inaugural Gravel and Tar La Femme that saw her take second place, came to the European campaign on the back of a very strong Kiwi-Aussie summer that also saw her win the young rider classification at the Women’s Herald Sun Tour.
The European campaign got off to the ideal start with 10th place in the SwissEver GP Cham-Hagendorn, but unravelled earlier this week with a nasty crash in Belgium. Merrick was taken out by a mass crash that resulted in the tough Kiwi sustaining a broken jaw. In total 18 stitches were required to her face and elbow to mend the damage done.
We at RoadCycling wish James and Jenna all the best in their recovery and look forward to seeing them continue to notch up what is already a highly successful palmares over on the continent.