By Andrew Hood
Tyler Farrar (Cofidis) and Saul Raisin (Crédit Agricole) both saw all their off-season hard work go to waste in a pair of costly crashes during Tuesday’s opening stage at the Circuit de la Sarthe, leaving both of the young pros with broken clavicles that will sideline them for at least a month.
Farrar was caught up in an ugly pile-up with 200 meters to go as the peloton was in full sprint, while Raisin crashed with about 2km to go; he also collected a broken rib, bruises and road rash to go along with the snapped clavicle.
It means Raisin won’t be starting next month’s Giro d’Italia, while Farrar said he’ll probably miss at least five weeks of racing.
“I’m kinda lucky because I only broke my collarbone. It could have been a lot worse,” Farrar told VeloNews. “Hitting the deck at 60kph isn’t fun.”
Farrar said it was a nervous finish to the stage, which otherwise had been relatively routine. After a slow four hours of racing, the peloton ramped up for the final wild bunch sprint on what Farrar described as a “dangerous finishing circuit.”
“I was on the fifth or sixth wheel and someone crashed right in front of me. I didn’t have time to react at all because we were already sprinting for the stage,” Farrar recounted. “I nailed him and flipped over. At that point, you just tuck and roll, and hope for the best.”
Farrar – a first-year pro after enjoying success with the American U23 team in Europe — was licking his wounds but counting his blessings.
He escaped with only a snapped left clavicle – which he broke for the fifth time in his young career – and hopes to be back to training with two weeks.
On Wednesday morning, he was still waiting to hear news from team doctors on whether he needed surgery. Either way, he’ll likely return to the United States to recuperate and reload for the second half of the season.
“For sure, it’s disappointing, but I’ve crashed before in my career and I know I can come back later in the season and be just as strong,” Farrar said. ‘It’s too bad because I was feeling strong. I was fifth at GP Rennes (on Sunday). My program was to race all the French Cup races in April and May, but now I can look at races in July and August. It’s a long season.”
Less lucky was Raisin, who went down with 2km to go and reportedly landed hard on his helmet.
Raisin couldn’t be reached on Wednesday, but a report on his Web page, posted by his parents, said CAT scans disclosed no serious head injuries.
“They have him on pain medicine so he can rest. The CAT scan shows everything is good,” a statement read. “Hopefully he will be back racing in July, the doctors have told us.”
The crash derails Raisin’s hopes of a strong grand-tour debut at next month’s Giro.
Raisin – who bounced back from a broken hip last May to finish an impressive ninth overall at the Tour of Germany in August – had been excited about his prospects in the Giro.
“I need to see what I can do in the bigger tours,” Raisin told VeloNews in an earlier interview. “But I know I like the longer races. I like big, hard climbs and the Giro has plenty of them.”
Crédit Agricole officials at the Tour of the Basque Country in Spain on Wednesday didn’t have any new information on Raisin’s condition, but said he might be able to start the Vuelta a España in August instead.
It was a double blow for Farrar and Raisin, who share an apartment during the racing season in France’s Cote d’Azur. The pair ended up in a hospital in Angers, France, after their black Tuesday.