The story of the Otxoa brothers, Ricardo and Javier, is tragic and sad.
However, from the depths of despair and tragedy Javier has fought back; here is
the remarkable tale as it has unfolded…
Thursday, February 15, 2001 -- Kelme rider killed
Ricardo Otxoa was killed and his twin brother Javier was badly injured
Thursday when they were hit by a car while training, a Spanish newspaper's Web
The sports daily Marca reported in its Internet edition that the accident
occurred as the 26-year-old brothers were cycling along an expressway near the
southern town of Cartama in the province of Malaga. Ricardo, who rode for the
Kelme team, was killed, while Javier was taken to a nearby hospital in critical
condition. The driver of the car involved in the accident was not injured, Marca
Friday, February 16, 2001--The Otxoa tragedy: Javier in very
Javier Otxoa remained in a “very serious” condition on Friday after the road
accident that killed his twin brother and fellow Kelme rider Ricardo Ochoa.
Javier, a stage winner in the 2000 Tour de France, was taken to a Malaga
hospital, where he remains in intensive care.
“His condition is very serious,” said hospital spokesman Luis Plaza. The
rider suffered serious head and chest injuries as well as a broken tibia and
Ricardo was due to race in the Vuelta a Andalucia starting on Sunday, while
Javier was expected to race the Tour de France again this season.
Last year, Spanish rider Saul Morales died following a collision with a lorry
on the seventh stage of the Tour of Argentina. The previous year, Manuel Sanroma
was killed in the Volta a Catalunya and in 1996 Jose Antonio Espinosa was killed
in a race in Fuenlabrada. In 1994 Antonio Martín was killed by a truck while
training near Madrid.
Saturday, February 17, 2001 -- Otxoa Still in Coma
Javier Otxoa was still in a coma Saturday, two days after the accident
that killed his twin brother and teammate.
Otxoa is on a respirator at the intensive care unit of Carlos Haya Hospital
in Malaga, the Spanish news agency Efe said.
The hospital described Otxoa's condition as "very serious" and said it did
not rule out new complications as he fights for his life, the agency said.
The coffin of former Kelme team rider Ricardo Otxoa is carried out of the
church by members of the Kelme cycling team after the funeral ceremony held in
Berango, Basque Country, 17 February 2001.
Ricardo Otxoa died in a road accident last Thursday 15 during a training
session in Malaga. AFP Photo EPA/EFE/Luis Tejido.
"As I saw him lie there - I saw a dead man," Kelme DS Vicente Belda, said
gravely after visiting the hospital bedside of Javier Otxoa.
For nine weeks Javier lay in a coma - the 1.84 metre Tour de France stage
winner had shrunk to just 49 kilos. The physicians could see no end to his
suffering and advised his grieving parents to turn off the machines that kept
Seven days later Javier opened his eyes to a strange new world.
He had survived.
The price of survival was high. When Javier Otxoa returned home, after 5
months in hospital, he was as a child. Unable to talk properly or solve simple
arithmetic problems, his parents faced the task of caring for their son who
seemed to be wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life.
However, the doctors prescribed the ailments but not the patient. Javier
battled back - "You learn a lot if you are a cyclist, I never threw the towel
in. My goal is to be able to ride a bicycle again. That is what I worked for."
Wednesday, October 31, 2001 -- "I hope ride a bike in one year"
Advances. Three steps forward, one back. Javier Otxoa, the hero of Hautacam
continues recovering from the serious accident that he suffered next to his
brother Ricardo in February. Little by little and he still has a lot left to go.
Yesterday he wanted to be with the journalists. In their house, the telephones
don't stop ringing, so their family organized a press conference to please
everyone: he were astonished by the attendance: "I am excited.. to thank you for
coming and because you still remember me."
With a picture of his Tour victory behind him and looking good, with even
more kilos than when competed, Javier handled the questions. It was in the
afternoon, because the doctors are strict. The first hours of the day are busy.
Every morning, Javier Otxoa gets up out of the bed, he has breakfast and travels
from Berango to Bilbao (16 kilometers), to work on his recovery: "It is the
hardest thing, to have to be there every day." Psychologists and psychiatrists
assist him, he does exercises to activate the part of the brain that still is
sleeping, and in the afternoon he puts in many hours of gym: "One week ago he
got on his it competition bike and after three or four tries was able to travel
20 meters alone one," says his proud father.
He still leans on his brother Andoni to walk, but it is a miracle that he can
make it, and his words are sometimes confused. "But I am very happy and very
lively. It seems like people remember me. This is a very long process and
I have to work very hard, but every time I am better."
His sentences are short and his voice still suffers the after-effects of the
accident. He has the still very visible scar of the tracheotomy administered on
the way to the Hospital Carlos Haya to save his life. He is not even 50% of the
Javier Otxoa who won in Hautacam, but he wants be that again: "I envy cyclists.
I hope to be able to get on a bicycle before year and half. Kelme has told me
that I still have a year of contract left and it is a pride to me that they
still remember me."
Javier Otxoa is aware that he is not far along, "This goes little by little,"
and his father, Ricardo, explains that the most important thing is to have
patience: "He is still as a boy to whom it is necessary to teach everything. In
rehabilitation they teach him to move, to walk and to think. You will have
noticed it: when he is asked something he has to think of the answer because he
still hasn't re-learned the immediate mechanism of responding, but step advances
Thursday, October 17, 2002 -- Javier Otxoa: "Difficult to return to
competing as a professional"
The cyclist Javier Otxoa, who was severely wounded in an accident in Malaga,
says that he sees it as "very difficult" to return to professional riding, but
aspires to compete as a Special Olympics sportsman.
"Still I have plans, and I am going them to have in the future. Competition
level, to ride with the professionals, I see as a little difficult. Some of the
injuries that I have are serious enough, I will try to train and to improve,
but…" he said to "Out of Play" on Euskadi Radio.
"I think I would like to compete in events with people who have physical
difficulties," said Otxoa.
"I have many dreams to be able to ride. I would like to ride as I had
previously, such as in the Tour or the Vuelta, at the professional level, but
now it is different, I think the best thing is to do compete in other modes,
such as the 'paralímpico.'"
Despite his injuries he continued to train undauntedly: first on an Ergometer,
then on rollers. And in November 2002, 21 months after the accident, he finally
managed to get on, for the first time, a normal racing cycle.
Since that time Javier’s former D.S. Belda has said that he is the "living
proof that there are miracles". Otxoa not only had to fight his injuries but
also depression following the tragedy. In order to fight against this he gave
himself new goals - to race cycles again and return to his winning ways.
Sunday, November 10, 2002 -- A Special Sunday in Valencia
Excerpt from "Criterium Internacional de Ciclismo Comunidad Valenciana-Gran
Premio CAM" report:
The Valencia competition was marked by other significant features, starting from
the presence of two Spanish riders, both of them definitively (and "formally")
pulling out of cycling after this contest. One is former Vuelta winner and World
Champion Abraham Olano, who took part in his last race as a professional
And other one was Javier Otxoa. The former Kelme rider, even able to beat
Lance Armstrong and solo to victory in the Lourdes Hautacam mountain stage of
the 2000 Tour, was back in the saddle for the first time after the tragical road
accident of February 2001, when his brother Ricardo was killed and Javier
himself sustained serious injuries. In what was just a symbolical gesture, but
extremely significative and appreciated, Otxoa raced two laps of the Valencian
circuit, the first all by himself, the second "escorted" by the rest of the
The Basque, cheered by the crowd all the time, admitted that being back on a
bike was source of big emotion to him, adding that "Wearing a rider's jersey
again made me very happy. Like a dream that came true. It all was such a nice
thing to me, including the presence of so many people who cheered and supported
Not just the spectators, but also all participants in the contest gave a warm
welcome to Otxoa and his family. Oscar Sevilla, a former teammate of Javier,
said that his comeback on a bike was the best thing of the contest, and that
Otxoa has won his most important race. Also race organizer Javier Castellar
thanked Otxoa and his parents for being there: "The Otxoas truly deserve this
homage. I know it was a big sacrifice for them, but I also know that they
accepted because the picture of him back in the saddle is the best possible one
we might have".
Since February Otxoa has been pushing himself and has been cycling up to 80
kilometers per day - and so his remarkable comeback continues.
Thursday, July 31, 2003 -- Javier Otxoa aims for Athens
Javier Otxoa, former Kelme rider whose fallen brother was honoured today in
the Circuito de Getxo-III Memorial Ricardo Otxoa, says, "I would like to be
paralympic champion in Athens. I am going away to prepare for it. I do not know
the level at which my rivals will be, with whom I am going to compete. I think
that it will not be easy, but will at least try to give the best possible
The so-called hero of Hautacam (Otxoa won the Dax - Lourdes Hautacam stage in
the 2000 Tour), has spent the last two years dealing serious physical injuries
after a training ride accident which took the life of his twin brother Ricardo,
participated in June in the Campeonato de España de Disminuidos Psíquicos, the
Spanish national championships for the physically disabled. He took second place
to 20 year old Maurice Eckhard, a Valencian with a German father.
While Otxoa said it was not the result he hoped for, Eckhard, who suffers
from cerebral palsy, was in 2002 Absolute Champion of Spain in the Track, Route
and Race categories (gold in the time trial, silver in the road race and bronze
in the 3 km pursuit), also winning the Worlds time trial last August in Germany.
(Contrareloj, Diario AS)
Wednesday, September 24, 2003 -- Otxoa Happy
The professional ex-cyclist Javier Otxoa was today "happy" with the medals he
won in the Paralympic Open European Cycling Championships. The rider from
Vizcaíno won a total of seven medals, three of gold, three of silver and one of
Javier Otxoa’s dream of winning a Gold medal in the 2004 Paralympic Games in
Athens is still on schedule and we wish him every success in achieving this
2001: Ruta del Sol, the peloton passes the memorial to Ricardo
Thanks to Dewielersite, Radsport-news, Elsprint, Ya.com, El Mundo and