Trek-Segafredo opts to take no risks when the Dutchman complains of dizziness during stage five.
When it comes to the head, Trek-Segafredo doesn’t take things lightly. Even though concussions are often classified as a mild brain injury, they are serious. And the team took no risks in Stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia when Pieter Weening complained of dizziness.
Pieter Weening crashed in Stage 4, a fall that appeared trivial. While trying to feed, his bike hit a team water bottle. A slow-speed crash that at first seems inconsequential, but he hit the ground with full impact. The assessment on the road cleared Pieter to continue. He made it to the finish, where he underwent more evaluations with Trek-Segafredo physician Dr. Emilio Magni. A brain injury is not visible like other abrasions sustained after a fall but is far more critical.
“When accidents like Pieter’s happen, the attention must be very high,” explained Dr. Magni. “As soon as we met yesterday at the hotel, I evaluated him to rule out symptoms and objective signals that could act as an alarm. Pieter told me about slight pain in the back of the neck, but of a muscular nature, as often happens. There are factors that help to understand if something is wrong, even slightly, and fortunately, everything was normal.
“Pieter had dinner without any problems, and during the night, I imposed strict monitoring: waking up every two hours to make sure of his state of consciousness. The awakening in the morning was serene, and so was the rest.”
Trek-Segafredo understands the seriousness of a blow to the head and partnered with HeadCheck Health, Inc in November. HeadCheck, a unique concussion assessment tool is helping Trek-Segafredo make critical judgments in head injury management.
Although Weening was cleared to start Stage 5 when he began to feel dizzy during the race the team made the tough decision for him to stop. Five days into a Grand Tour, that call was not easy – for rider or staff.
“During the stage, the race doctor did the first check-up with Pieter. We talked by phone to get a report of the rider’s feelings, and those were of slight dizziness. We agreed with the team director, with much regret but no hesitation, to stop him. In cases like these, no risk can be taken,” said Dr. Magni.
“I am very, very sorry to leave the team right now,” added Weening. “With all the motivation I had for this Giro, and seeing this all fade, honestly, it hurts. Unfortunately, there were not the conditions to continue. The feelings yesterday, at the end of the stage, were normal. I kept in close contact with Dr. Magni, and the feelings were good.
“But today, when the stage started, as the kilometers went by, I started to feel strange sensations —slight dizziness. I talked with [director] Adriano Baffi and had a first check with the race doctor, but the sensations did not improve. After a second talk, I was told to stop. Now I return home with regret, but at least relieved to know that there will be no consequences.”
Before returning home, Weening underwent specific testing in the local hospital to rule out a head injury. The results came back negative – good news for the rider and team.
“Thanks to the organization of the Giro, we were able to undergo a comprehensive evaluation at the hospital of Cosenza,” praised Dr. Magni. “In a few hours, we implemented a minor head trauma protocol, which includes head-brain and cervical spine CT scans, abdominal ultrasound, and blood tests. Fortunately, all the results were negative and this, regardless of everything, is what matters most.”