US driver faces jail for injuring NZ cyclist

Michael Torckler battled back from injury and has been signed by American pro-racing team Bissell. Photo / APN
Michael Torckler battled back from injury and has been signed by American pro-racing team Bissell. Photo / APN

A hit-and-run driver who nearly killed a professional New Zealand cyclist in the US has pleaded no contest and faces up to 10 years in jail.

Cyclist Michael Torckler, 25, was hospitalised for 12 days with head injuries, shattered facial bones, broken arm and hand, when California man Arthur Ben Yu drove a stolen car into him in June.

Yu, 36, appeared in a Santa Rosa court on Monday to plead no contest to four felony charges - hit-and-run, reckless driving causing injury, car theft and possession of stolen property, the Press Democrat reported.

He will be sentenced next month. He has been told to expect a lengthy prison term.

Torckler, winner of the Tour of Borneo, was on a practice ride near Healdsburg, California, on June 29 when he was run down by Yu.

Yu dropped off a passenger to assist Torckler before he drove off. He was arrested the following day after police were tipped off by a room-mate.

After wondering if he'd ever race again, Torckler, from New Plymouth, has now been signed by American pro racing team Bissell and will line up for the Tour of Southland later this month.

- APNZ

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