Tue, 19 Aug 2003

Cyclist Yana given mournful homecoming

Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung

The second stage of the Tour d'ISSI cycling race on Monday was marred by the death of Indonesian cyclist Yana Rochdiana, who suffered a serious head injury following a collision with a passenger bus in Cipacing village in Bandung regency.

Yana died half an hour after the crash, most likely of an injury to the brain, as a doctor from the race's organizing committee said blood kept hemorrhaging from his ears. The doctor, Imran A.N., admitted Yana to Al Islam Hospital, and said he was given nine stitches to close his head injury.

The accident took place at around 10:10 a.m., just after 118 cyclists began the second stage covering 135 kilometers between Bandung and Tasikmalaya, Yana's hometown.

Another cyclist, Ahmad Affandi of East Kalimantan, broke his right arm in the crash and is being treated at the same hospital. The third competitor wounded in the accident, Agustian of West Kalimantan, was discharged from the hospital.

Yana, 20, of the Indonesian Cycling Association (ISSI) Selection Team, was buried later in the day in his hometown.

Chairman of the West Java cycling body Memet H. Hamdan said Yana's father, Darussulama, had requested an immediate burial for his son.

"His (Yana's) father said an autopsy was not necessary," Hamdan said.

Affandi admitted that a number of riders, including him and Yana, had strayed too far from the median and into the section of the road left open for motorists heading to Bandung.

West Java coach Gatot Sunjaya blamed the organizers for the accident, saying that they had failed to provide lookouts on both ends of the route, which was known to be busy, thus increasing the chances for cyclists to encounter an accident.

Gatot recounted Yana as a national talent who was being groomed to represent his province in the National Games next year. He was named the best junior cyclist in 2000.

Local traffic officers also claimed the organizers had failed to notify them as to the cycling route.

"We could have stopped the traffic, allowing the cyclists to pass safely -- if the organizers had informed us about the route," Second Adj. Insp. Subakdi said.

Police questioned the bus driver, Sutisna, as a witness as he did not do anything wrong.

Malaysian riders confirmed their domination in the annual event, after Mahazir Hamad won the second stage of the 1,346- kilometer race.

Hamad out-sprinted Kaswanto of Lampung in a two-horse race several hundred meters from the finish line. Malaysia's Suwardi Hassan, who took the opening stage between Jakarta and Cianjur on Sunday, came third.

Jakarta rider Rochmat Nugraha earned the consolation award as the climb winner, followed by M. Basri of Yogyakarta and Hassan of Malaysia.

The eighth stage in East Java, from Madiun to Surabaya, will be the longest in the Tour, covering 234 kilometers.

A total of Rp 234 million (US$27,368) in cash prizes is on offer, the figure representing the brand of sponsor Dji Sam Soe (234), an East Java-based cigarette producer.