Fabian Cancellara out of Tour de France with broken back after crash
Swiss rider involved in mass pile-up on stage three
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 11/10/15 12:38pm
Fabian Cancellara's Tour de France is over after he broke his back for the second time in three months in a crash on stage three.
The 34-year-old Swiss rider had been in the race leader's yellow jersey but was catapulted over his handlebars in a huge pile-up with around 55km to go.
He immediately began holding his back and although he finished the stage, 11min 43sec behind winner Joaquim Rodriguez, he was later taken to hospital.
Cancellara had already broken his left L2 and L3 vertebrae in a crash at the one-day classic E3 Harelbeke in March and a CT scan confirmed he had once again fractured two bones in his back, this time his right L3 and L4 vertebrae.
He said: “This is incredibly disappointing for me. The team was on a high with the yellow jersey and were very motivated to defend it. We have had a lot of crashes and injuries since the start of the season, and we finally had a great 24 hours but now it’s back to bad luck.
“It was very hard to come back in shape after my crash in Harelbeke and getting the confidence. The yellow jersey gave me a huge boost for the cobblestone stage tomorrow. I guess I have to keep the positive and look forward to the second part of the season.”
Cancellara had said before the start of stage three that this year's Tour would be his final appearance at the race.
During his career he has spent a total of 29 days in the yellow jersey and has led six Tours - a joint-record with Eddy Merckx.
Speaking at the finish line, and before being taken to hospital, Cancellara explained his version of the crash.
He said: “For sure, it’s a big disappointment. I expected to defend yellow today, not be lying on the ground at 80kmh. One day you win, one day you lose. Like this, is for sure not nice.
“It was on a slight downhill, and I saw the crash happening on the right side and I was hoping I could sneak between the riders in the field, but there was a drainage gutter and in the end I got hit from the back, and hit this drain thing and I don’t even know what happened after that.”
With all of the race medics needed to attend to the victims of the crash, there were none free should there be further falls and the race was consequently halted for about 10 minutes.
Some riders complained about the decision, but Cancellara, who has been a vocal campaigner for rider safety, said it was a sensible decision.
He added: “Thank you to the race organisation to neutralise it. When you see so many people on the ground, it was the right thing to do.”
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