1 August 2007
Just days after completing a very successful first outing in the Tour de France, which saw the team capture the King of the Mountains title through Mauricio Soler, and finish second in the points standings through Robbie Hunter, South Africa’s Team Barloworld has been rocked by the death of Ryan Cox.
A two-time South African National Road Championship champion, Cox missed out on selection for the Tour de France because he needed to undergo a vascular lesion operation in France to straighten an artery in his left leg that had become knotted.
According to Robbie Hunter, Cox would have been in the race had it not been for the surgery he required. It was expensive, but Hunter lent Cox the money for the operation.
It appeared that the surgery performed by a leading doctor who had carried out the operation on about 600 cyclists, was a success, but complications set in.
On Monday, Cox’s condition deteriorated rapidly. He suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed to hospital that evening.
At the hospital, his heart stopped on a number of occasions. Doctors, though, managed to keep him alive by using adrenalin injections before performing emergency surgery on the artery, which had ruptured.
Despite their efforts Cox’s condition continued to worsen. His organs began to fail and he wasn’t expected to make it through Tuesday.
Finally, on Wednesday morning at 5:15, he passed away. He was 28 years of age.
According to a friend, the artery had been leaking for some time. The blood had seeped throughout most of his body, which affected his organs. The damage proved too much to overcome.
Sadly, after his operation in France, it appeared that everything was on track for Cox to make a successful return to cycling, but that was not to be.
Writing on his website (which is no longer available) on 16 July, he said: “It has only been 12 days since I went under the knife to solve my probs. Since then I have returned home and (I’m) recovering well. The swelling has really gone down nicely now and (I) am able to move around a bit quicker than last week.
“I’m taking things nice and slowly and being home around my family and friends is exactly what I need. I can start some jogging or swimming in about 19 days. Obviously this is the plan from the surgeon who operated on me. I’m not going to push myself and will be working very closely with him through my recovery.”
Shocked and stunned
Team Barloworld was shocked and stunned by Cox’s passing. In a press release, it said: “Team Barloworld extends its sincere condolences to the Cox family. The South African and European cycling industry is devastated by his death.”
Barloworld was set to host a press conference on Wednesday to welcome Robbie Hunter back to South Africa after his fantastic performances in the Tour de France. Instead, after the shocking death of Cox, the team cancelled the celebration.
Barloworld’s highly-respected team manager, Claudio Corti, said: “Ryan was an extremely talented rider who excelled in the international cycling arena. He has represented his country with great skill and pride, and has always been looked upon as a great ambassador for South African cycling.”
After turning professional in 2001, Cox recorded seven wins. He joined Team Barloworld in 2003.
He represented South Africa in the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, but the highlight of his career came in 2005 when he finished top of the overall classification in the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia. It was, at the time, proclaimed as South African cycling’s biggest ever result.
Not only did Cox take the overall title, but he was also crowned King of the Mountains and led Team Barloworld to the team title.
With apologies to Robbie Hunter, it could be argued that Ryan Cox was the first man truly to put South Africa on the global cycling map.