American motorcycle racer Hayden 'critical' after crash

Nicky Hayden before last year's Australian MotoGP at Philip Isla

Nicky Hayden before last year's Australian MotoGP at Philip Island.

Hayden, who was in Italy following a race at nearby Imola, was transported to a local hospital following the incident on the Rimini coast, before being transferred to Cesena.

The American, who has been racing for Red Bull Honda's World Superbike team, collided with a auto near Rimini Wednesday.

Former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden has suffered severe brain damage and his condition is "extremely critical" after being hit by a auto while cycling in eastern Italy, the American's Honda World Superbike team said yesterday.

According to Maurizio Bufalini from Cesena hospital, the American suffered a severe cerebral damage, followed with polytraumas and chest injuries.

From the past season, he returned to the Superbike Championship with the Red Bull World Superbike Honda, replacing Sylvain Guintoli alongside Michel van der Mark.

His brother Tomy and mother, Rouz, immediately flew over from the United States and went to the hospital to join their closest relative.

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There was continued support for Hayden and his family on social media throughout Thursday. In the MotoGP, he ran 218 Grand Prix races with three wins and 28 podium places.

He has 218 MotoGP races under his belt and won the world title with Repsol Honda 11 years ago - ending Valentino Rossi's streak of five successive championship victories - and also raced for Ducati before switching to the Superbike circuit last year.

Nine-time world champion Rossi took time out from preparing for this weekend's French MotoGP at Le Mans to pay tribute to Hayden.

"Come on Nicky, we're all with you", added the 38-year-old.

The dangers of training on public roads have been highlighted in recent weeks by other accidents affecting professional athletes.

Britain's Tour de France champion Chris Froome escaped unhurt this month while having his bike written off in a hit-and-run incident near his Monaco home.

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