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Australian dies after Epic stage

The gruelling 2010 Absa Cape Epic cycle race was hit by tragedy on Monday when 26-year-old rider James Williamson, editor of the Australian Enduro mountain bike magazine, passed away at the Ceres Private Hospital, after his riding partner Shaun Lewis, 28, could not rouse him.

James was a strong young athlete, who had an uneventful ride yesterday feeling completely well with no complaints. He and his partner ate well last night and everyone who spent the afternoon and evening with him said that he was perfectly fine. After the first two stages they were in 18th overall position.

At 5.10am on Monday his teammate could not rouse him. He phoned his media hospitality contact who immediately notified the Absa Cape Epic race doctor Basil Bonner of Medi-clinic. Dr. Bonner was at the site four minutes after he had received the emergency call. At that time bystander CPR was already conducted. The medical staff conducted CPR for 90 minutes, one hour on site and 30 minutes in the ambulance and at Ceres Private Hospital.

Williamson had undergone no medical treatment in the race to that stage. The Medic-clinic staff is keeping record of every single consultation on course or in the race hospital by means of Blue Sphere electronic medical event management system. James Williamson also submitted the compulsory medical questionnaire which all participants must submit prior to the race and which must be signed by a doctor. His medical form stated no previous medical condition of note.

Dr. Bonner informed Williamson’s next of kin, Megan Patey (aunt) and John Lascellis (uncle) and is investigating whether a forensic post mortem should be conducted in South Africa or Williamson’s home country Australia. Once the outcome of the investigation is clear, the body will be repatriated to Australia. Williamson’s father, aunt and uncle will be arriving in South Africa tomorrow night.

Medi-clinic Private Hospital Group, the official medical partner of the Absa Cape Epic, is arranging trauma-counselling services for Williamson’s riding partner Shaun Lewis.

The Medi-clinic staff at the race includes six race doctors, 11 paramedical staff, six nursing staff and four admin and logistic support staff. In addition, there are 25 ECP marshals (emergency care practitioners) positioned on the course. Onsite response teams include three 4×4 ambulances, 5 Medi-clinic equipped ATVs, 4 response vehicles and a medi-vac helicopter on permanent standby.

On behalf of the race organisation, Kevin Vermaak, director of the Absa Cape Epic, has expressed his most sincere condolences to James’ partner Nicky, his family and his riding partner Shaun.

Says Sonja G├╝ldner-Hamel, international media director of the Absa Cape Epic, who has liaised for several years with Williamson: ÔÇ£James was a very enthusiastic mountain bike journalist who had expressed interest to ride the race over the last few years. 2010 was the year that he could fit it into his publishing schedule and he was thrilled to finally be participating in the race. After yesterday’s Stage 2 through singletrack paradise, he was all smiles repeatedly expressing how he enjoyed yesterday’s route. He will be deeply missed in the mountain biking media fraternity.ÔÇØ