A top-ranked professional bicyclist from New Zealand was recovering Saturday in a Santa Rosa hospital one day after he was injured in a collision with a hit-and-run driver while on a training ride in Alexander Valley.
Michael Torckler, while still in critical condition, was improving, friends said late Saturday.
The suspected driver, Arthur Ben Yu, 36, was arrested Saturday afternoon at his home in Rohnert Park, said CHP Sgt. David Derczo.
Torckler, 26, was riding downhill on Pine Flat Road near Highway 128 on Friday afternoon at a high rate of speed when he collided with a car driving uphill. The driver then fled the scene, the CHP said.
The incident is the latest in a series of vehicle-versus-bicyclist incidents that have left five people dead in the past six weeks in the North Bay.
Steep, narrow and winding, Pine Flat Road is a dead end road and lightly trafficked. That makes it popular among cyclists, especially serious ones such as Torckler, a member of New Zealand's Pure Black Racing team who won the Tour of Borneo in May.
He was in Sonoma County training with the Santa Rosa-based Bissell Pro Cycling team and was scheduled to ride in Bend, Ore., in the Cascade Classic on July 17, said Glen Mitchell, Bissell's manager.
“We were slowly bringing him into our team and integrating him,” Mitchell said.
Torckler arrived from Quebec, where Pure Black had been racing, on June 21 and was staying with friends of Bissell team members. He was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital at 1:35 p.m. Friday unconscious with major head injuries and facial lacerations, the CHP said.
He was initially listed in critical condition at the hospital and remained in the intensive care unit Saturday evening, but Derczo said his injuries were no longer life threatening.
Torckler suffered 20 facial bone fractures that will need surgery, according to a report by New Zealand TV news program ONE News. Although Torckler was heavily sedated, he was able to communicate with people.