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Fabian Cancellara’s Trek Factory Racing team has confirmed that the Swiss rider has suffered fractures to his back in his crash in Friday’s E3 Harelbeke and, as a result, that his spring Classics campaign is over.
Cancellara had made winning the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix again the prime targets of his season but both objectives are now no longer possible due to his injuries.
X-rays and CT scans taken at the hospital he was brought to confirmed that he had suffered two transverse process fractures in two vertebrae bones of the lower back.
His team has said that the recovery time is unknown at this point in time, but that the Classics are out of the question.
“There is nothing you can do with this injury – no cast, no surgery – but just biting the pain,” said Cancellara.
The Classic specialist and multiple former world time trial champion explained the circumstances of the fall. It took place on a cobbled descent inside the opening 40 kilometres and was apparently due to a dropped water bottle.
“It all happened so fast,” he said. “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. [But] I had to stop; the pain was too much. We went to the hospital for scans and this confirmed the pain.”
General manager Luca Guercilena said that such accidents happen in cycling and that every rider faces up to big crashes sooner or later.
“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.”
Fellow Classics competitor Tom Boonen had earlier been ruled out of the Classics due to a dislocated fracture suffered in Paris-Nice.
His Etixx-QuickStep team empathised with Cancellara and his squad via Twitter.
@Etixx_QuickStep True, without those two, it won't be the same. Dankjewel.
— Trek Factory Racing (@TrekFactory) March 27, 2015
Given their sporting rivalry, the message was a nice touch and shows the team’s respect for Cancellara.