BRAIN DAMAGE: Nicky Hayden is in a critical condition in hospital after being hit by a car while out training on his bicycle.
BRAIN DAMAGE: Nicky Hayden is in a critical condition in hospital after being hit by a car while out training on his bicycle. Rob Griffith

Hayden critical with serious brain damage

DOCTORS in Italy say former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden has suffered severe brain damage and his condition is "extremely critical" after being hit by a car while cycling.

Honda quoted Cesena's Maurizio Bufalini hospital as saying the 35-year-old had "a serious polytrauma with subsequent serious cerebral damage".

Doctors had placed the 2006 MotoGP champion, known as "The Kentucky Kid", into a medically induced coma after the incident on Wednesday, the BBC reported earlier.

Hayden was taken to the hospital after being struck by a car while training on his bicycle along Italy's Adriatic coast, following a weekend Superbike race at the Imola circuit.

Honda said he was taken initially by ambulance to a hospital near the coastal resort of Rimini, before then being transferred to Cesena.

Hayden's fiancee Jackie and team members had been joined at his bedside by brother Tommy and mother Rose, who flew in from the United States.

Italian media quoted the hospital as saying on Wednesday that Hayden had suffered a cerebral edema and lower body fractures, and surgery had not been possible immediately because of his condition.

Italian great Valentino Rossi, who leads the MotoGP championship and is racing in France this weekend, hailed his former teammate.


The smashed window of a car that hit the bicycle of American motorcycle racer Nicky Hayden while he was training in Rimini, Italy, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. The Superbike World Championship says the incident occurred Wednesday along the Rimini coast. Hayden, who was in Italy following a race at nearby Imola, was transported to a local hospital for treatment. Injury details were not immediately available. (Tommaso Torri/ANSA via AP)
The smashed window of the car that hit Nicky Hayden. Tommaso Torri

"Nicky is one of the best friends I have had in the paddock," said the Italian, who lost the 2006 title to his friend by just five points.

"We were teammates in his rookie year in 2003, when he was a young guy making his debut in his first European experience.

"After a few years, we fought for the title down to the last race in Valencia and, unfortunately for me, he won and became MotoGP world champion. After the race we shook hands and hugged.

"Come on Nicky, we're all with you."

Hayden last raced in the MotoGP championship in Spain in September 2016 as a stand-in for injured Australian Jack Miller at the privately run Marc VDS Honda team. He started 216 races between 2003 and 2015, winning three.

The dangers of training on public roads have been highlighted in recent weeks by other accidents affecting professional athletes.

Michele Scarponi, the 2011 Giro d'Italia cycling champion, was killed last month after being hit by a van while training close to his home in Filottrano in eastern Italy.

Britain's Tour de France champion Chris Froome escaped unhurt this month while having his bike written off in a hit-and-run incident near his Monaco home.