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Tour de France

Kevin Vermaerke crashes out of Tour de France in early spill

Team doctors are still waiting for final diagnosis, but it appears the Tour rookie suffered a shoulder injury.

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (VN) – Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM) crashed out of the Tour de France on Saturday in a high-speed pileup early in the eighth stage.

The American Tour rookie was caught up in a crash in the middle of the pack and fell heavily to the tarmac.

The 21-year-old Vermaerke pulled himself into a ball to protect himself as riders crashed around him.

Team DSM sport director Matt Winston told VeloNews that Vermaerke tried to continue in the race, but was unable to carry on.

“I know it’s a shoulder injury, to what extent we don’t know yet, but it’s for sure bad enough for him not to continue in the race,” Winston told VeloNews. “He couldn’t hold the handlebars. He did get back on the bike, and he did ride for a couple of kilometers and he couldn’t grip the bars.”

The crash happened on the same day that his parents had arrived from the United States to watch him race in his first Tour.

Winston didn’t know the full details of the crash, but said it will be a blow for the team to lose the American rider.

“It was a touch of wheels in the front,” he said. “It seemed like it was coming together and there were a lot of guys there on the ground. It was probably over 60kph. Romain (Bardet) also went down, and we are assessing him as well.”

Medics attend to Vermaerke following a crash Saturday. (Photo: THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Others fell, including yellow jersey Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic), as riders tried to avoid the high-speed pileup.

Also read: A new generation of North American takes over at Tour de France

Vermaerke was transported to a local hospital, team officials confirmed, and more details will be available shortly.

“It’s a shame to lose him, because he was doing a super job,” Winston said. “It’s a shame he goes out of the race in this manner.

“He can take the positives out of what he’s done, he was really good in the first week, and for sure we will miss him. He crashed on the second stage, and he was struggling with his back, but that had gone away over the last few days.”

Vermaerke punched his ticket to the Tour following a solid spring and several breakaways at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.

He was among seven U.S. riders starting the Tour this year, the most since nine started in 2014.