MADRID (AFP) — Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde has undergone a succesful operation to fix a broken kneecap he suffered in a crash that knocked him out of the Tour de France, his Movistar team said Sunday.
The 37-year-old was taken to a hospital in Dusseldorf on Saturday after he came down hard on a slippery bend in miserable wet conditions during the opening stage 14km time-trial won by Geraint Thomas in Germany.
He broke his left kneecap and suffered a blow to the ribs as well as cuts in the fall.
“Valverde was operated on with success this morning at Dusseldorf’s University Hospital for the injuries caused by yesterday’s fall which forced him to abandon the 2017 Tour de France,” Movistar said in a statement.
“Valverde will remain in Germany at least two more days before returning to Spain to continue a recovery that will keep him off the road for several months,” it added.
The team released a picture of a smiling Valverde, who was third overall two years ago, lying on a hospital bed with two fingers on one hand raised in the air in a V shape.
It is the third time Valverde has had to pull out of the Tour following his failure to finish in his first two participations in 2005 and 2006.
He was expected to play a pivotal role in helping Tour contender Nairo Quintana in his bid to defeat reigning champion Chris Froome during the Tour’s mountain stages.
Aussie Durbridge quits Tour after crash
Former Australian national champion Luke Durbridge quit the Tour de France on Sunday after injuring his ankle in a crash on Saturday’s opening stage.
The 26-year-old had crashed spectacularly into metal barriers during Saturday’s time-trial in wet and treacherous conditions in Dusseldorf.
Although he got up quickly and carried on to the finish, the time-trial specialist later revealed he’d sprained his ankle.
He started Sunday’s 203.5km stage from Dusseldorf to Liege but was soon announced by Tour organisers as having abandoned the race.
Durbridge is a former Aussie champion in both the road race and time-trial.
It is the first time in four participations for Australian team Orica that he will have failed to finish the Tour.