By Andrew Hood
It was a bittersweet day for Garmin-Slipstream in Monday’s third stage at the Giro d’Italia.
Tyler Farrar bolted to second place in the stage, climbed into second place overall at eight seconds back of race leader Alessandro Petacchi (LPR) as well as second in the points jersey and earned some prime podium time with the best young rider’s jersey.
That was the good news.
Team captain Christian Vande Velde crashed out of the Giro in a spill with about 50km to go and suffered serious injuries that will complicate his preparations for the Tour de France.
Vande Velde broke two ribs and a severe contusion and sprain to his mid-back, said Garmin team officials.
“His front wheel got taken out,” said Garmin director Matt White. “He fell right in the middle of the road. I was with him within 10 seconds because we were the second car today. He was pretty upset. There’s no soft landing when you’re going 50kph.”
Officials said it was too early to speculate on how the crash might affect his preparations for the upcoming Tour de France.
Broken ribs, however, are a complicated injury and depending on the severity of the injury, make breathing difficult and painful. Vande Velde also has a history of back problems.
The American leader will return to his European home base in Girona, Spain, for further exams, the team reported.
The crash occurred in the middle of the pack as the peloton was reeling in the day’s main breakaway and ramping up the speed to tackle the mountain points at Combai with about 50km to go.
Vande Velde was lying on his back, supporting his body with his elbows as White and a Giro doctor attended him.
He was transported to a local hospital in Conegliano, where X-rays revealed a fracture in his seventh right rib. An official medical report also said he suffered traumatism to his thorax, back and hip as well as cuts and scrapes on both sides of his body.
Vande Velde was racing the Giro to prepare for the Tour de France, but had ambitions to make a strong showing in the centennial edition of the Italian tour.
Last year, Vande Velde wore the Giro’s maglia rosa after Garmin won the opening team time trial on Sicily. He went on to finish fourth overall in the Tour.