Overall contenders Dan Martin and Tejay van Garderen have been forced to withdraw from the Vuelta a España as a result of a massive crash which took down many riders during Saturday’s eighth stage.
The duo was amongst many fallers in the accident, which occurred with just over 50 kilometres to go. The bunch was spread right across the road, with some riders lying littered on each side of the road.
Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) had started the stage third overall while van Garderen was 16th.
Trek Factory Racing rider Frank Schleck and the French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) were also injured; the latter has also abandoned.
The most badly hurt was the Lotto-Soudal rider Kris Boeckmans, who appeared to be unconscious after his fall. He has been taken to hospital and was described as conscious and stable.
Initial reports from the race suggested that van Garderen suffered a fractured collarbone. The nature of the injuries to the other riders was not clear at the time of writing.
The Vuelta a España is the second Grand Tour that van Garderen has been forced to withdraw from this year. He became ill during the Tour de France while sitting third overall, and was a non-finisher on stage 17.
He had been riding the Vuelta a España as a goal in itself and also as part of his buildup for the world road race championships in Richmond, Virginia.
— BMC Racing Team (@BMCProTeam) August 29, 2015
As for Martin, he will rue his own misfortune. He has had an unlucky season littered with crashes and missed out on his goal of winning one of the Ardennes Classics as a result.
He appeared to be in fine form in the Vuelta, placing second and fourth on stages and being just 33 seconds off the leader’s jersey starting Saturday’s stage.