Riding is Life


Nathan Van Hooydonck is awake after suffering medical episode in car crash

The 27-year-old has been rushed to hospital after falling ill behind the wheel.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 12.09.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Editor’s note: the Jumbo-Visma team posted on social media that Van Hooydonck is awake and no longer in critical condition. This story has been updated.

Jumbo-Visma rider Nathan van Hooydonck was briefly put into an induced coma and reported to be in a ‘life-threatening condition’ after he fell ill while driving and crashed into several cars. He was later revived and, according to the team, suffered no injuries from the crash itself, but would undergo further examinations to determine the nature of the medical event that precipitated the crash.

The 27-year-old was stopped at traffic lights at an intersection around 8:30am on Tuesday morning with his pregnant wife in the passenger seat when he suddenly fell ill and crashed into several other cars in the Belgian town of Kalmthout. Van Hooydonck has been rushed to hospital while three people in the other cars involved in the accident, including a young child, are reported to have suffered minor injuries.

Van Hooydonck, who has been part of the Jumbo-Visma Tour de France squad that has won the past two editions of the race, finished the Tour of Britain on Sunday as part of the team that helped Wout van Aert to overall victory.

“A car with two occupants was waiting at the traffic lights at the intersection of Dorpsstraat and Kapelsesteenweg,” said Patrick De Smedt, a spokesperson for the police, reported by Het Nieuwsblad.

“The driver was resuscitated on-site and taken to hospital in life-threatening condition. His pregnant wife who was sitting next to him was not injured but was also taken to hospital for a check-up.”

“We can confirm that earlier today our rider Nathan van Hooydonck became unwell while driving his car, leading to his involvement in a traffic accident,” Jumbo-Visma said in a statement. “He was subsequently transported to the hospital, where he is receiving good medical care. We cannot confirm rumours that his condition is critical. He is undergoing further medical examinations. Thank you all for your messages to Nathan and the team.”

Over in Spain, where Jumbo-Visma are racing the Vuelta, sports director Grischa Niermann said his team on the ground didn’t know much about the situation and racing given the circumstances was not easy.

“I don’t know much more than what is in the media,” Niermann told Sporza. “We know that he had an accident and is in hospital. I think he is in an artificial coma. I cannot confirm whether or not he is in danger.

“We know that we ourselves, especially the riders, are very affected. We hope that Nathan is okay and that his condition gets better. And that his wife is okay.

“The riders have reacted quite strongly to this news. We are here in the Vuelta, we have the leader’s jersey and we will soon be racing. That is not easy. And I hope that we will soon be able to change our minds. But you never want to hear this kind of news. We can only hope.”

Jonas Vingegaard won the 16th stage and said at the finish that his thoughts were with Van Hooydonck, who he called “my best friend” and noted that while the team had a hard emotional start to the day, they’d received good news about his condition. With word now that Van Hooydonck is awake and uninjured, Vingegaard and the team will be further at ease this evening.

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