The Death of Isaac Galvez and Its Repercussions

Nov 28 2006

If you’d told me last week that there’d be cycling news unrelated to the phantom stories of Operacion Puerto or the race organizer/ProTour schism, I would have told you I’d be psyched to report on it. Then, it turns out to be this. Isaac Galvez, multiple-time World Champion on the track, is now dead, following a crash during the Gent six-day.

Galvez was, by all accounts, a true competitor and a genuinely nice guy, and after a number of high profile podium finishes last year, including several at the Tour de France, the Spaniard seemed poised on the brink of a breakthrough that would eliminate his previous footnote as the man who inadvertantly capped Cipollini’s Giro stage win record at 42.

Though some accounts are critical of an apparent delay in his treatment, it surprises me than no one else has brought up the fact that safety measures exist that could have prevented this tragedy entirely. Though Galvez’ death, the first at a six-day since the 1930’s, is certainly a statistical anomaly, it should also give race organizers pause to re-evaluate and improve upon their safety measures.

The ever-present risk of serious injury and death has long added to the romance of cycling, and the sport seems to cultivate a cavalier nonchalance toward the subject in its adherents. It took the tragic demise of Fabio Casartelli, and later, of Andrei Kivilev, to drive home the necessity of helmet use; to let Galvez’s death pass without similar consideration would dishonor his memory completely.

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