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WomensCycling.net Activities Halted


No Further Race Reports or Photography In Foreseeable Future

Founder and main contributor no longer attending events, not willing to compromise

Regular readers will be aware that there has not been any WomensCycling.net event coverage in 2014. Sadly, we now confirm that WCN activities have been suspended indefinitely; there will not be any further race coverage or photography in the foreseeable future.

The current situation experienced by WCN founder and main photography contributor, CJ Farquharson, has forced this decision. "WomensCycling.net is known for providing race reports and photographs from events throughout the elite women's season, from whereever the UCI calendar dictates. We have always tried to attend events in-person and to provide first-hand reports and images. That has been the WCN niche and strength; actually being at races and not having to reply on second-hand sources and accounts for material," Farquharson explained exclusively earlier this week. 

"With a limited budget and only a handful of other contributors, the main burden has been mine with respect to travel and coverage. I have been increasingly unable to provide even minimal coverage of professional women's races and so the decision has been taken to suspend updates to the website indefinitely.

"I would like to say 'thank you' to everyone who has been involved with WomensCycling.net  including those other contributors and supporters, plus of course the riders, race organisers and the site followers / readers / fans; without whom, none of this exciting adventure would have been possible."

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CJ Farquharson's current situation

CJ Farquharson  has issued the following statement: 

"It is with deep regret that I am forced to announce that I will not be able to follow my plan to return to work at the Giro Rosa in July 2014. After the disappointment of missing the beginning of the season, I had hoped to be fit in time to be in Italy to follow my tenth women’s Giro, the Giro Rosa.

When the front wheel of Bernd Hagenau’s motorcycle smashed into my leg at over 100km/h during the final stage of Thuringen Rundfarht in 2007, I lost consciousness. I woke, lying in the road over 30 metres away from the point of impact, having been thrown through the air onto the bonnet of a car parked off the course and then falling to the ground within sight of the Amy Gillett Memorial stone. The lower portion of my left leg was just about severed; the tibia and fibula were broken and the skin, ligaments, blood vessels and muscle were ripped apart. In addition, amongst other injuries, my ankle was broken in multiple places, the ligaments in my right knee were torn, my left thigh so badly bruised that surgery was required last year to remove calcified soft tissue. My right shoulder still has not healed and I suffer chronic head injury and trauma.

There is no doubt that I was the victim in a serious crash. I was not driving the slow-moving ‘photo moto’ I was sitting as a passenger on and I was not driving Hagenau’s “Chief Marshal” motorbike at high speed either. Despite that, his insurance company have fought every attempt I have made to recover my medical expenses already spent up to date and for the foreseeable, ongoing treatment and surgeries that I will require in the future.

Zurich Insurance hid behind an absurd clause in German law for over 6 years, claiming that I should be responsible for all of the costs and compensations, not they. They forced me to take them to court to dispute the clause – which I did and the court ruled in my favour. Still, however, even now, the case is not resolved; they are disputing Hagenau’s responsibility in the crash and thereby their liability for compensating me what I have spent and that which I am due. In addition to recovering from the broken bones, torn skin and ripped muscles and ligaments, I have been subjected to more stress and anguish than I could ever have imagined possible. Due to client commitments, I have even had to return to Thuringen and even the scene of the horror each year.

My health is now poor in several aspects. I have seen my doctor more in the past (almost) seven years than in my lifetime prior. I spent over a year with my fibula repeatedly just about fusing back together but then painfully fracturing again during routine daily activities. Eventually, the decision was taken to attach a plate to the bone to stabilise it.  I have undergone 17 surgeries (15 on my leg), for specialists to try to repair my broken body. I have had skin and bone grafts; chunks of my body have been moved from healthier areas to repair the damaged parts. A rod was inserted through the length of my tibia and I have been stitched, screwed and stapled back together. I had to completely learn to walk again. I have had more x-rays, scans, examinations and investigations than most people probably experience in a lifetime and I am constantly in pain.

Whilst the professional women’s peloton is following the well-worn pattern of races throughout the road racing season, I have been forced onto the sideline, due to my ongoing medical situation. There was one event which I would have targeted for the first part of the season; the British event “The Women’s Tour”. Its stages departed from, passed through and finished at towns in which I variously was born, lived, worked and trained and raced my bike for many years of my life. If ever there was a race which would have held a unique sentimental value for me, it would have been this one.

The highlights of previous seasons too, have been muted by the pain and illness I have endured just to be there. I had to cancel my request for accreditation to the 2008 Beijing Olympics because the medical experts did not know if I would be fit enough to go. I was awarded sport-specific accreditation for the London 2012 games, but was so limited by my condition(s) that I was only to make a basic attempt to capture the spirit of the largest sports spectacle on Earth.

Not only has my body been torn apart, broken and crushed, my work has suffered. I take extra time to recover from the travelling, it takes me longer, probably double the time, to complete all of the pre-race planning and post-race processing than before July 29th 2007 and I am not as mobile during the races as my counterparts. Far from expanding my business thanks to my niche position as the only photographer to attend all of the UCI road World Cup and more events than most of my competitors, my client list is limited because I cannot cope with more.

Now, I am facing the reality that I am not fit enough to return to the peloton and the season, as I had planned, for the Giro Rosa in July. Although I began my cycling photography career earlier, the 2005 Giro Donne was my first European UCI event as a full-time professional. Because of that, it has always held a special place in my heart. 2014 should have been the celebration of my tenth attendance and now, instead, I know that on several of the days of racing, I will be in the examination rooms of a variety of medical specialists….. In fact, for the remainder of the season, I will be undergoing further appointments, scans and examinations and there is a possibility of further surgery later in 2014.

It has been an honour to witness some truly exceptional performances by highly talented and dedicated athletes during my time following the peloton. I have also had the opportunity to meet a variety of wonderful individuals connected with the sport through their various occupations and interests. There are some people with whom I have formed longstanding friendships and whose support has been an inspiration during my most painful times and whose company has been a pleasure during the more enjoyable moments. I thank them all."

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Background Facts

The crash took place on 29 July, 2007 . Farquharson was working for various clients to provide photographs from the final stage of the Thuringen Rundfahrt. The race was run under UCI regulations, on rolling closed roads and it was raining. The crash occurred 200m from the location of the crash involving the Australian National team in 2005 when Amy Gillett was killed and her team-mates critically injured.

Farquharson had directed her photo moto driver to stop at the side of the road for a final photo of the break and peloton before the finish. Chief moto marshall, Bernd Hagenau admitted in his statement to the police that he saw the indicator of the slowing photo moto, but he could not  avoid crashing into it. The police report states that he was travelling at over 100km/h. Both Farquharson and her driver, Peter Siefert, were seriously injured by the impact.

Farquharson underwent 12 surgeries on her leg in the first 3 months following the crash. She will require rehabilitation therapy for her injuries for the rest of her life. She has endured 17 surgeries since 29 July 2007.

Medical and related expenses outlaid by Farquharson to date exceed $200,000 (Australian) and have been funded via bank loan and home remortgage. A projection of the rehabilitation therapy costs alone at 2014 prices over the next 30 years exceed $200,000 (aus).

Amongst other qualifications, Farquharson holds a second class upper honours degree in economics [ BA (Hons) Econ – 2:1] and a Masters in Business Administration; [ MBA ] from the University of Durham.

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