A Santa Fe woman who is a major player in international biking competitions is in serious condition in the University of New Mexico Hospital following injuries sustained in an accident Friday afternoon.
The woman, 29-year-old Irena Ossola, recently took third place in the CVR World Cup Women’s Elite Finish competition in Paris.
Santa Fe Police Department Lt. Anthony Tapia said police are still investigating the accident, which occurred around 4:15 p.m. Friday near the intersection of West Alameda Street and Quail View Lane, not far from the roundabout that intersects Alameda with Siler Road.
Tapia said the male driver of a sport utility vehicle said the sun was in his eyes and he did not see Ossola on her bicycle as he swerved in front of her, leading her to ram the vehicle.
Tapia said the police have not charged the male driver, whose name he did not release because the investigation is ongoing.
Ossola was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, Tapia said.
Ossola grew up in both Santa Fe and Northern Italy. In a 2016 interview with David Bowden for The Slow Road travel blog, she said she spent “hours riding up and down the neighborhood streets in Santa Fe. I even remember the first day my mom let me ride my bike to school.”
She told Bowden she initially was drawn to other competitive sports, including track, soccer and basketball. But in Italy, where her father and some of her uncles were cyclists, she began “falling in love with the hours on the bike exploring the roads around the lakes and mountains of northern Italy.”
She sometimes worked as a tour guide in Italy but maintained a residence in Santa Fe where, according to Andrew Shapiro, a Santa Fe cyclist who sometimes rode with Ossola in group bicycling events around town, she had planned a Gran Fondo biking event Saturday, Nov. 18, in Santa Fe.
“She was at the top of her game internationally,” Shapiro said. “She has participated in many of the top races around the world.”
The League of American Bicyclists, located in Washington, D.C., gave Santa Fe a “silver” rating for bike safety both this year and last year, though the city’s report card could not be accessed on the league’s website on Sunday.
The league ranked New Mexico No. 44 for bicycling safety. Last year, it ranked New Mexico 40th.
Contact Robert Nott at 505-986-3021 or firstname.lastname@example.org.