Friend says elite cyclist hurt during County race has international experience in his sport

By Julia Bayly, BDN Staff
Posted July 23, 2012, at 8:39 p.m.

WASHBURN, Maine — A teammate of Thad LaVallee, the 38-year-old cyclist injured on the Parsons Road during Sunday’s time trial races, said Monday his friend is no stranger to racing on open roads.

The two compete with the Designturn Velocite USA Team out of Sharon, Mass.

“He’s our team leader,” Mark Stockwell said. “He’s a very talented rider and knows what he’s doing.”

LaVallee either struck or was struck by a pickup truck during the Presque Isle Time Trial Race at about the six-mile mark of the 14-mile race.

“He told me this is the worst accident he’s ever been in,” Stockwell said. “I guess whenever you’re hit by a large truck, it’s the worst accident you’ve been in.”

Stockwell, who had spoken to his friend in the hospital Monday, said LaVallee is currently at The Aroostook Medical Center being treated for multiple broken bones, fractures and lacerations.

Among his teammates, LaVallee has a reputation as a tireless coach and riding partner, Stockwell said.

“I’ve been racing since 2005 and I’ve learned a lot from Thad,” he said. “He’s a great racer and a great guy [and] on a training ride. He never drops the other rider.”

According to the Velocite USA website, LaVallee has raced throughout North America and Europe as a professional elite cyclist for more than a decade, with close to 100 wins.

“He’s a competent and competitive cyclist,” Stockwell said. “He wins a lot of races.”

The race, sponsored by Mojo Sports of Presque Isle, was part of the Maine State Time Trial Series and about 25 racers from around Maine and Massachusetts had registered for the event.

Given the gentle terrain of the race course and LaVallee’s abilities, Stockwell said he would not be surprised if his friend was traveling between 27 and 30 mph at the time of impact.

LaVallee has a wife and two young children and works teaching underprivileged children in the Boston area, Stockwell said.

“The accident is still under investigation,” Washburn Patrolman Roy Guidry said late Monday afternoon. “We are interviewing a lot of witnesses and taking it one step at a time.”

Guidry said that according to witnesses interviewed on Sunday, LaVallee’s bike hit head on a pickup truck that was facing south in the northbound lane.

“He hit the grille right dead smack on. The damage to the truck is in the dead center of the grille right in the license plate and grille area. That is consistent with a narrow strike like the bike hitting the center of the pickup truck,” Guidry said Sunday. “A broadside would have been completely different.”

All of the bike damage was in the front of the bicycle, adding credence to the thought that the bike struck the pickup truck head on, Guidry said. He said he has yet to determine whether the pickup truck was parked or moving.

The driver of the pickup truck, Kenneth Ayotte, 53, of Presque Isle, told Guidry that he was stopped at the end of the driveway where the accident occurred.

“His teammates are here for him,” Stockwell said. “We are ready to help him any way we can.”

Anyone who witnessed the accident or has information about it is asked to call Guidry at 455-4043.

Nick Sambides Jr. contributed to this report. Reporter Julia Bayly was a participant in Sunday’s time trial race.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/07/23/news/aroostook/friend-says-elite-cyclist-hurt-during-county-race-has-international-experience-in-his-sport/ printed on September 19, 2014