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Martin crashes, riders criticize dangerous finale at Vuelta

SEVILLA, Spain (VN) — Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) was forced to visit a local hospital after a late-stage crash Friday on a finishing circuit that several riders characterized as too dangerous.

The Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner hit the deck with about 10km to go in a high-speed finale. Despite suffering heavy cuts and scrapes, he was able to remount his bike and finish the stage.

Not only did the Irishman lose a fair bit of skin on his arm and hip, he crossed the line 1:33 back. To add insult to injury, the race jury even slapped him with a 20-second penalty for riding through the team cars.

Martin was so banged up in the crash that the team immediately sent him to a local hospital for check-ups. There are no broken bones, and Martin will wait until Saturday morning before deciding on whether he will be able to continue.

Writing on his Twitter account, Martin thanked his fans for encouragement, adding, “Thanks so much for all the messages. Happy to say nothing broke, but most painful crash ever had. See how we wake up [tomorrow].” Alex Rasmussen, Martin’s Garmin teammate and Vuelta roommate, posted a photo of Martin after his hospital visit, covered in bandages.

After dropping out of the Sierra Moreno, the course hit the narrow, congested roads of downtown Sevilla, one of Spain’s largest and most congested cities.

Martin’s incident was the worst on the final circuit through the urban streets of Sevilla that was universally hailed as dangerous by the peloton.

The course was not only laden with traffic circles, speed bumps, and other urban obstacles, portions of the roads were lined with parked cars and crowds of people pushing in on the road, making the passage on the already technical roads even more harrowing.

Stage-winner Stybar Zdenek (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who jumped clear late in the stage, said he was happy to be out of harm’s way.

“It was dangerous on the circuit,” he said. “I was glad to be in the breakaway because it was very nervous in the bunch.”

Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) echoed the thoughts of many in the peloton when he called the finishing circuit “shameful.”

“You cannot have a finale like that,” Rodríguez told journalists at the finish line. “We were talking during the stage, and many are upset. It was a stage of survival.”


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