Crashes in Sunday’s rainy, treacherous world championships road race have taken their toll on favorites ahead of this weekend’s Giro di Lombardia.
Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) both have waved the white flag on the season following heavy falls Sunday in Florence.
“I got some cracked ribs, and [I am] sore all over from the crash,” Horner wrote VeloNews in an e-mail. “So I’m heading home to Bend.”
Horner won the Vuelta a España to become the oldest grand tour winner in history at nearly 42, and entered Sunday’s 272km race as an outsider for the rainbow jersey. Horner said he believed he still had his winning Vuelta form, and was taking aim for victory.
Instead, Horner, along with compatriots and BMC Racing riders Tejay van Garderen and Taylor Phinney, all crashed out of the race.
Another victim is 2008 Olympic champion Sánchez, who crashed during the second lap on the circuit course in Florence when conditions were at their worst.
Sánchez injured his knee and suffered others bruises, with doctors ordering two weeks’ rest.
The pair was among several contenders to abandon or crash out of the worlds, which only saw 61 of 208 starters finish. Others with early exits included Cadel Evans (BMC) and Sir Bradley Wiggins (Sky).
The injuries put an effective end to both riders’ seasons. Neither have confirmed contracts for 2014.
Both Horner and Sánchez were linked to the new project backed by Formula One driver Fernando Alonso, who was hoping to take over the license of Euskaltel. Talks collapsed, however, and both parties walked away angrily without finalizing an agreement, meaning that the long-running Basque team will fold at the end of the season.
Horner is expected to stay with Trek as the bike company takes over title sponsorship of the team next season, yet there is no official announcement.
Things are more complicated for Sánchez, who still has a two-year contract with Euskaltel management that has promised to pay out salaries for riders who do not find new contracts for 2014.
Alonso vows to work to pull together a team for 2015, but Sánchez does not want to sit waiting on the sidelines, and hopes to find a ride for next year.
Many top names have yet to be confirmed for the final major race of the 2013 season.
Rigoberto Urán, who crashed heavily late in Sunday’s race, is still not yet confirmed for Sky in what would be his last race with the British outfit before moving to Omega Pharma-Quick Step next year.
Others confirmed for Lombardia include new world champion Rui Costa and Nairo Quintana (both Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Robert Gesink (Belkin), Ivan Basso (Cannondale), and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).
Lombardia will be the last major European race for both Euskaltel and Vacansoleil-DCM, which fold at the end of the year after being unable to secure new sponsors.