Steve Gurney banged up - but back on bike

By Paul Taylor of Mountain Scene

Leave in the middle of a race? No, says a banged up Steve Gurney.
Leave in the middle of a race? No, says a banged up Steve Gurney.

Queenstown-based multisport legend Steve Gurney never quits - not even after going to hospital mid-race with suspected broken bones.

The nine-time Coast to Coast winner had a nasty crash in the middle of Queenstown's Bike Festival's Tour de Wakatipu on Saturday and was taken to Lakes District Hospital for X-rays.

But that didn't stop a banged-up Gurney getting back in the saddle within hours of smashing up his body and bike to finish the event.

Gurney rode the remaining 20 kilometres of the 45km elite race and finished - long after all the other competitors had gone home.

"My keys were at the finish line and I had no money or cell phone, so there was nothing for it but to jump back on my bike," a modest Gurney told Mountain Scene.

"But also I hate pulling out of events. I have not pulled out of one event in the 25 years I've been racing, so thought, 'Damn it, I'm going to finish this thing'."

The Queenstown-based athlete was taken to the Frankton-based hospital by ambulance after crashing into a bollard on the course's Queenstown Trails Trust track at Lake Hayes.

Gurney suffered a suspected broken wrist, torn knee ligaments and damaged groin but was given the all-clear after X-rays. He had his bike fixed at a local shop.

"It was one of the bollards supposed to keep cars off the track," Gurney said.

"Are they really necessary? Even recreational riders hit them.

"I was doing about 50km/h in the bunch. Normally road bikers point out there's an obstacle in front but that didn't happen.

"I'd like to see what solutions there are to those bollards because they're a bit dangerous."

Gurney said the small wood posts were difficult to see and suggested they be removed and replaced by signs or taller obstacles - "possibly even fake trees".

"I'd hate to see fluoro paint blighting the landscape. I want it to look natural but also want people to be safe."

Festival director Geoff Hunt says one option would be to place traffic cones on the bollards during races but Queenstown lawyer and keen cyclist Tom Pryde says he'll be on to the Queenstown Trails Trust urging them to remove the bollards.

Hunt was at the finish line at Chard Farm, packing down the event as Gurney - a longtime friend - completed the course.

Gurney, who was sitting gingerly on his saddle, holding on with one hand and mostly pedalling with one leg, says of a relieved Hunt: "He looked overjoyed - probably the happiest I've ever seen him."

Hunt adds: "I was worried about him because the first report was a broken arm and leg - so when he cycled in I was very happy to see him. He's a bit nuts. Tough bugger."

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