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Terrifying Crash Injures Vingegaard, Evenepoel, Roglič and Others

By Siegfried Mortkowitz

A horrific crash in Thursday’s stage 4 of the Itzulia Basque Country injured about a dozen riders, including three of road racing’s elite, Jonas Vingegaard (Visma– Lease a Bike), Remco Evenepoel (Soudal–Quick Step), and Primož Roglič (BORA-hansgrohe). 

According to the latest reports, both Vingegaard and Evenepoel suffered broken collarbones, with the Dane also breaking several ribs and Evenepoel also fracturing his right shoulder blade. Visma said on its website that Vingegaard remained in hospital for observation while Soudal announced that the reigning ITT world champion would travel to Belgium on Friday and undergo an operation on his collarbone at the hospital in Herentals.

Roglič, who had also crashed heavily the day before, came away with ‘only’ scrapes, bumps and bruises and limped to his team car, which drove him away. His team said that he had suffered no fractures. Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) appeared to have sustained the worst injuries, with the Australian 7news website reporting that he had a fractured cervical vertebra and two fractures in his thoracic spine.

Other riders injured in the spill were Steph Cras (Team TotalEnergies) who suffered a right pneumothorax, several fractured ribs and two dorsal vertebral fractures as well as bruises and skin abrasions, according to his team, and Sean Quinn (EF Education–EasyPost) who sustained a concussion and a fractured sternum.

The crash occurred towards the end of a descent with about 36 km to go in the 157.5 km stage. As the peloton rode through a harmless-looking curve, riders taking the curve on the outside appeared to slide on the road surface before falling into a concrete drainage ditch. Several cyclists were seen riding over the grass and through a stand of trees on the side of the road.

The rest of the stage was neutralised after the crash, with only the six breakaway riders allowed to race for the stage victory, which was taken by Louis Meintjes (Intermarché- Wanty). However, times did not count towards the GC, the remaining King of the Mountain and intermediate sprints were cancelled and no points or bonification seconds were awarded at the finish.

Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek), who took over the race lead from Roglič, said: “It’s a sad day. I wish all the guys who crashed all the best and wish them a fast recovery. My mind is with the guys who crashed, and right now I am not thinking about the leader’s jersey.”

The impression that the riders’ bikes slipped on the road surface was confirmed by Soudal–QuickStep boss Patrick Levefere who was giving a press conference at the time of the crash. “The rider on Remco’s wheel fell and he probably lost his focus for a moment and also went down,” Lefevere said. “I don’t think he took too many risks; the road seemed very slippery. It could have been worse with all those boulders and trees but it does seem to have been very serious.”

Lefevere was speaking before Evenepoel’s injuries were confirmed but he insisted that the Belgian would ride in the Tour de France. However, his participation in this month’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège is clearly off. As Lefevere said: “[P]lenty of [injuries] can be repaired. But if something’s broken, then everything stops immediately.”

It remains to be seen if Vingegaard will be able to defend the last of his two Tour GC crowns, and if so how fit he will be. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), the 2020 and 2021 Tour de France winner, broke his wrist in last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège and missed more than a month of racing. He finished second in the Tour to Vingegaard but faded badly on the last climb of stage 17, suggesting that he had not been able to regain his best form.

Evenepoel, who has never raced in the Tour, may not lose much time as riders often resume training as quickly as three weeks after a collarbone fracture.