Recent news that French team AG2R plans to use cryotherapy to aid recovery during the Tour de France was followed by shock and tragedy.
The minus 150 degree cold baths are said in enhance recovery and reduce inflammation but L’Equipe is now reporting that disaster has apparently struck.
AG2R rider Yuriy Krivtsov was accidentally frozen.
“We don’t know what happened. He is like a block of ice,” said medical director Eric Bouvat. “They are only supposed to endure three minutes of intense cold but somehow Yuriy stayed in too long. We are attempting to thaw him out.”
Experts in cryotherapy suggest that re-heating Krivtsov is unlikely to be successful. “I would put the odds near zero,” said Nickolas Frostee, of Cryogen, a research company specializing in the sub zero baths. “I can’t speculate on what happened but you just don’t reheat frozen bodies. It doesn’t work like that.”
Worried team officials were at a loss to explain how the special body-suit might have failed to protect Krivtsov from the minus 150 degree liquid nitrogen bath.
“We did not see any holes, everything is intact,” said spokesman Julian Igloeaux. “It is perhaps that someone may have set the timer for 30 minutes instead of three.”
Krivtsov has been transferred to special high-heat incubator at a hospital outside Bessey sur Froide, where specialists hope a medically induced reheat may still produce a miracle.
“It is possible, that is all I can say, possible,” said doctor Marc Chaud. “The human body can be incredibly resilient. He is from the Ukraine so we hope he has an extra capacity to withstand the freeze.”
The use of the cryogenic baths at AG2R was suspended immediately while the team attempts to find a silver lining in the tragedy.
“It could have been worse, I suppose,” said Bouvat. “It could have been a French rider instead of a Ukrainian. If we have frozen Riblon or Dessel, that would have been a real catastrophe.”