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Hoping for a solid performance in the race after netting a solid ninth in the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana last month, Frank Schleck instead was forced to drop out of the first stage of the Vuelta a Andalucía due to a big crash.
The Trek Factory Racing rider was one of the worst affected in a fall towards the end of the opening 121.3 kilometre race from La Rábida/Palos de la Fra to Hinojos.
He finished 138th, seven minutes 35 seconds back, but was unable to continue in the afternoon stage 1b time trial due to his injuries.
“Frank came down in the second big crash inside the final ten kilometres,” explained team press officer Tim Vanderjeugd to CyclingTips. “It was the one where the Sky and Ag2r riders collided. It was like a tsunami in the bunch…so many riders came down.
“Frank’s leg was very sore afterwards…he actually couldn’t walk. He didn’t start the time trial, and went to hospital to have tests done.”
Both Vanderjeugd and the team were keeping fingers crossed that the news will turn out to be good.
“Although it’s really sore, he doesn’t think there is a bone broken,” he explained, “although we need to get x-rays to make sure.
“He said that he thinks he knows what broken bones feel like and so he’s hopeful it’s not that. He was very sore, though – it was certainly worse than cuts.”
The team has since updated the situation, confirming that no bones were broken. However the rider may be out of action for some time.
“Frank Schleck sustained a deep muscular injury in quadriceps and [it is] unknown when he will return,” Trek Factory Racing said via Twitter. “We wish him a speedy recovery.”
Schleck finished third in the 2011 Tour de France, standing on the podium with Cadel Evans and his brother Andy Schleck, and is a past winner of the Amstel Gold Race, the Tour de Suisse, the Tour of Luxembourg and Critérium International.
He is one of the team’s leaders for this season.
His brother Andy retired in 2014 due to injuries from a crash sustained in last year’s Tour de France.
Several other riders were also adversely affected by Tuesday’s crash.
Louis Vervaeke (Lotto – Soudal) suffered a concussion, Blel Kadri (Ag2r La Mondiale) was left with a broken rib and Kenny Van Bilsen (Cofidis) incurred a broken wrist.