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The possibility of Nairo Quintana riding the world road race championships or later races such as the Tour of Beijing or Il Lombardia has definitely been ruled out after the Colombian underwent surgery in the Clínica San Miguel in Pamplona on Thursday.
The Movistar rider crashed out of the Vuelta a España on Tuesday after falling during the stage ten time trial. He was wearing the race leader’s red jersey at the time but lost his chance of winning the race when he clipped a roadside barrier on a fast descent.
Quintana suffered a displaced fracture to his right shoulder blade. That injury was successfully operated on by the orthopaedic surgeon Jesús Alfaro and both he and Movistar team doctor Alfredo Zúñiga spoke to the media in a press conference to explain what had been done.
“Nairo’s injury is a drill-hole fracture of the coracoid process,” the surgeon explained. “This kind of fracture is really rare; they affect various sportsmen but are just 1% of all fractures in sport, 10% out of the scapula ones.”
“The coracoid process can be treated without any operation, but I decided to have him undergo surgery because, as shown on the scanner image, the fracture extends like the tail of a mouse to the scapula. We fixed it with two screws.
He said that Quintana is affected by other injuries, but is showing rapid progress in his recovery. “He has many abrasions all over his body due to the crash, especially in the back side of his shoulder. When he first came here he was hurting in his hip and shoulder, but there were no other injuries on his bone tissue, and actually, he really improved from yesterday to today.”
“The normal process would be keeping his right arm in a sling for two to three weeks,” Alfaro underlined. “Then, he would be able to move it; after that, he could be getting on his bike fast, in two to four weeks, and after 6-8 weeks, he could start competing. All of that, with no complications in these 48 hours after surgery with infections or any acute pain. Nairo was humble, calm and didn’t complain about anything; it was all easy with him, he’s a charming kid.”
According to team doctor Zúñiga, the injury was a ‘big blow’ for the squad. He said that Movistar had planned the Vuelta around him, knowing that he was going to be in strong shape. “It’s just bad luck, and something we unfortunately come across in cycling very often,” he said.
“The important thing is finding a quick solution to this, keeping Nairo calm and recovering him with help by the doctors. Fortunately, he focuses on every adversity he finds in life in an optimistic way; he was already smiling yesterday, feeling in pain but committed to recovering well.”
He added that the rider would likely return home on Friday if things go to plan.