Fabian Cancellara withdraws from Tour de France
Yellow jersey holder fractured vertebrae in big crash during third stage Antwerp to Huy
Fabian Cancellara has pulled out of the Tour de France after fracturing vertebrae during a crash in stage three. Photograph: Reuters
Fabian Cancellara has withdrawn from the Tour de France after fracturing two vertebrae in the horrific crash that interrupted Monday’s stage three from Antwerp to Mur de Huy. It is the second time this year the Swiss cyclist has suffered similar injuries.
In the race leader’s yellow jersey, Cancellara was brought down heavily in a pile-up featuring at least 20 riders 55 kilometres outside Huy and appeared to signal to medical personnel that he was feeling dizzy and could not see properly. He opted to continue racing despite suffering obvious discomfort and grimacing while attempting to stretch his lower back.
Rushed to hospital once the stage ended, CT scans later showed he’d fractured his L3 and L4 vertebrae. In March, Cancellara fractured two vertebrae, also in his lower back, after crashing in the E3 Harelbeke, also in Belgium. He was able to finish yesterday’s stage but limped home over 11 minutes behind the stage winner Joaquim Rodríguez.
“This is incredibly disappointing for me,” said the Trek rider in a statement issued on Monday. “The team was on a high with the yellow jersey and were very motivated to defend it. We have had a lot of crashes and injuries since the start of the season, and we finally had a great 24 hours but now it’s back to bad luck. One day you win, one day you lose.”
Cancellara came a cropper in a crash caused in a fall by FDJ rider William Bonnet, who lost control of his bike after clipping the back wheel of the rider in front of him, bringing down nearly two dozen other riders. Such was the seriousness of the crash that the race director, Christian Prudhomme, felt compelled to controversially neutralise and then stop the race so the many injured could receive treatment. As well as Bonnet, who also suffered fractured vertebrae, Orica-GreenEDGE rider Simon Gerrans, Giant-Alpecin’s Tom Dumoulin and Team Katusha’s Dmitry Kozontchuk were also forced to abandon.
Tuesday’s stage four takes the peloton over seven different sectors of cobbles on the often narrow lanes between Seraing and Cambrai, where more many crashes are predicted. Sky’s Chris Froome remains in the yellow jersey, ahead of Etixx-Quick Step’s Tony Martin.