|A broken hip could easily have|
spelled the end of 40-year-old
(image credit: Ludovic Peron CC BY-SA 3.0)
The first stage of the Tour Down Under was marked by a high speed crash today with several riders suffering serious injuries. Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) has a neck fracture, Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ) a broken hip and Matteo Montagutti (AG2R) a snapped collarbone. Around 20 riders in all were involved in the 70kph accident.
FDJ has since stated that x-rays confirm 40-year-old Guesdon's hip is indeed broken; but initial hopes that, as the break is relatively minor, the rider could make a full recovery and return to racing in time for Paris-Roubaix now look unlikely. The rider had previously stated that he would retire following the Monument, which will be held on the 8th of April, but directeur sportif Yvan Madiot now believes this is unlikely.
Roelandts underwent a scan which revealed that he has a fractured sixth cervical vertebrae and as such is fortunate to have escaped paralysis - fears that he might have other injuries have proved unfounded. Sky TV reported fears that he too might face early retirement, but other sources are far more optimistic and his team haven't produced a press release to support the British broadcaster's report.
The crash took place 1km from the finish line of the 149km stage and was caused when Kenny van Hummel collided with a 70-year-old female spectator, who received minor injuries. Some spectators have criticised crowd control at the event - however, race directors told AdelaideNow that the rider had lost control on a patch of dirt, causing him to skid into the woman rather than the crash resulting from a failure to keep the road clear. Robbie McEwen of GreenEDGE, the Australian team launched one year ago today, was also in the crash; Vacansoleil's Romain Feillu fell earlier and is suffering stomach pains but will race again in the next stage.
|Greipel, now riding with |
(image credit: Manfred Werner-TSUI
CC BY-SA 3.0)
Conditions along the parcours, which stretched from Prospect to Clare, are described as having been "brutal" with powerful winds and temperatures of 40°C. Fabio Sabatini of Liquigas-Cannondale took 3rd place. Greipel has attacked organisers, saying that in his opinion the parcours was unnecessarily dangerous. Race director Mike Turtur responded by saying that riders were given sufficient detail concerning hazards and the final section, but adds that he will meet Greipel to discuss the issue and his concerns.
Roelandts also used his Twitter to pass on congratulations to the German rider and posted a photograph of himself in the Accident and Emergency Department at Adelaide Hospital.
Video of the final sprint and crash