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Karsten Kroon, Sep Vanmarcke crash in stage 14 of 2011 Vuelta a España

POLA DE SOMIEDO, Spain (VN) — Karsten Kroon (BMC) and Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Cervélo) were both involved in a heavy crash on the descent off the Cat. 2 Puerto de Ventana in Saturday’s 14th stage at the Vuelta a España.

No one saw Kroon and Vanmarcke and possibly another rider fall off the road on a sharp left-hander at about 125km into the stage on the long, 20km descent off the Ventana climb. They were part of the day’s winning 18-man breakaway that crested the Ventana ahead of the main pack.

Kroon was transported to a local hospital. Vanmarcke was able to finish the stage, but was also taken to a hospital for observation. Spanish TV images showed fans helping a frightened Vanmarcke onto the road.

Initial reports indicate that neither was seriously injured.

“There was not clear information about who might have crashed,” Garmin-Cervélo sport director Bingen Fernández told VeloNews. “There was a lot of confusion. They fell off the road on a tight left corner and no one saw them. We waited and it took a long to confirm that our rider had crashed. They are really playing with their lives.”

Though details are still sketchy, the crash was eerily similar to what happened to Pedro Horrillo in the eighth stage of the 2009 Giro d’Italia, when he crashed into a 60-meter ravine.

BMC Racing Team directeur sportif John Lelangue said there was no sign that the riders had crashed off course.

“There was nothing on the ground — no bike, no bottles and no spectators. So no one could inform us that something had happened,” Lelangue said in a team statement. “We understand it happened in a curve, a left one, which was looking dangerous. In fact, I informed (assistant director) Rik Verbrugghe it was dangerous. So I remember well passing there.”

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