Fabian Cancellara out of remaining spring classics with back fractures
Swiss rider crashes out of E3 Harelbeke in Belgium
Last Updated: 27/03/15 6:17pm
Fabian Cancellara will miss the rest of the spring classics after breaking his back in a crash during E3 Harelbeke on Friday.
The Trek Factory Racing rider was one of a number of riders to come down in tricky conditions in Belgium and it was later confirmed by his team that he had suffered two fractured vertebrae in his lower back.
Cancellara would have been among the favourites for two of the sport's biggest one-day races, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, having won both three times apiece. He had also won E3 Harelbeke three times, most recently in 2013.
He crashed on the Haaghoek section of cobblestones while riding in a group containing most of the pre-race favourites, including Milan-San Remo winner John Degenkolb and Lars Boom, who won the cobbled stage of the 2014 Tour de France.
Cancellara was able to get back on his bike and ride on for a little while, but the pain in his wrist and back forced him to abandon the race and he was immediately taken to hospital.
Crash caused by water bottle
"X-rays have confirmed the worst: 2 fractures of vertebrae in lower back for Fabian Cancellara means no spring campaign," Trek Factory Racing said in a statement.
Before confirmation of the severity of his injuries, the team's sports director Dirk Demol said: “It seems that a water bottle fell on the cobbles and caused it. He hit his wrist and the lower part of his back. He couldn’t stay on the pedals anymore.”
Other riders were also taken to hospital after getting caught up in Cancellara's crash, with Classics specialist Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Garmin), sprinter Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida) and Robert Wagner (LottoNL-Jumbo) among those hurt.
Cancellara is the second big classics star to be ruled out of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix after Tom Boonen, who has seven wins in those two races combined, saw his spring campaign ended in a crash at Paris-Nice.