On the cobbled descent of the Haaghoek less than 40-kilometers into E3 Harelbeke an alluded dropped water bottle caused a large crash that took down numerous riders including Fabian Cancellara.
Although Cancellara was able to remount and continue he was in obvious pain, and only a few kilometers later he pulled to the side and climbed into the Trek Factory Racing team car.
Fabian Cancellara: “It all happened so fast. Someone slammed the brakes and there was no way to go, just straight into it. I flew over a couple of riders and then landed in a pile of bikes. There were riders everywhere. I fell so hard, and felt pain everywhere. It was sort of reflex to get back on the bike but the pain was hard, in my lower back, left wrist, and my ribs on the back.
“I felt right away that it was a serious crash, but I wanted to try to keep going. I had to stop; the pain was too much. We went to the hospital for scans and this confirmed the pain.”
Later at the hospital X-rays and CT scans confirmed the worst: two transverse process fractures in two vertebrae bones of the lower back.
The prognosis of recovery time is unknown at this time, but the injury is serious enough to make definite there will be no spring Classics for Fabian Cancellara.
“There is nothing you can do with this injury – no cast, no surgery – but just biting the pain,” said Cancellara.
It’s a big blow to Trek Factory Racing ahead of the two big Monuments the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
“These are things that happen in cycling, and that everyone has to deal with sooner or later,” said general manager Luca Guercilena when we reached him by phone. “But we know how much Fabian is important for us, so we are of course very dejected to hear this news.
“First what is the most important is his health, and that he takes of that so he can return 100 percent again. And then for the rest, it’s time for all the other riders to step up – as they now have possibilities – and perform well. Certainly it’s not great news for our team, but that does not mean it’s over. We have some very good riders that will now have their chances.”