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Pro Kiwi cyclist in critical condition after hit and run

Published: 4:03PM Saturday June 30, 2012 Source: Fairfax/ONE News

A talented New Zealand cyclist is in a serious condition in an American hospital tonight, after being knocked off his bike in a hit and run.

Michael Torckler, who races for New Zealand's Pure Black Racing team, had competed in the Tour de Beauce in Canada earlier in this month and was training alone in California this morning when he was hit by a car.

"It's a very, very serious situation a hit and run like this. We don't know any other information," said Michael's father Brohn Torckler.

The 26-year-old from New Plymouth has made some improvement in hospital, but is still in a serious condition with 20 facial bone fractures that will need surgery.

Pure Black Racing business director Greg Cross confirmed the accident.

"Michael has been seriously injured in a collision with a car in California this morning when he was out training," Cross said.

"Apparently it was a hit and run accident. Initially he was taken to hospital in critical condition, but I have just heard that there has been some improvement and he has moved from critical to intense. Obviously it is still very early days though.

"That's about all we know at this stage and our thoughts are with Mike and his family at this point in time."

His family have been hastily making arrangements to get to America as quickly as they can, and are due to fly out tonight.

"Our world (has been) turned upside down at that very moment, yeah, quite a harrowing little moment there," said Brohn Torckler.

His family told ONE News tonight that the news is not all bad though as although Torckler is heavily sedated, he is able to talk to people.

"They have carried out scans and they're very happy and pleased to report there's no major internal injuries to brain and head area," said this father.

The cyclist had been due to spend 10 days training in the US.

Cross said Torckler is a rider with immense talent, and has already had more than his fair share of bad luck.

"He is a hugely talented rider and a guy who has in the past 12 months already made a comeback from a nasty accident.

"Last year he smashed his knee and was out of cycling all of last year."

His family, team, and fans hope the professional athlete pulls through, and the hit and run offender is caught.

Torckler signed with the Pure Black team in 2010, and then was seriously injured in the Tour of Southland that very week and could not race at all through most of 2011.

However, he came back to win Taupo and K2 around Coromandel last year, and has had a strong year so far on the international circuit winning the Tour of Borneo this year.