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Milano-Sanremo: Cavendish crashes heavily, Greipel breaks collarbone

Mark Cavendish crashed in the final 10 kilometers of Milano-Sanremo on Saturday. It is the third heavy fall for him in the last month.

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Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) escaped serious injury at Milano-Sanremo on Saturday after he crashed heavily with less than 10 kilometers remaining. Dimension Data released a statement after the race that Cavendish sustained a rib fracture, as well as a possible ankle injury in the crash. The latter injury will be further examined after he returns home from the race. The crash is Cavendish’s third fall in the last month and in as many races.

In a separate incident, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) crashed on the descent of the Poggio and his team reported after the race that Greipel probably broke his left collarbone. This puts Greipel’s starts at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in doubt.

Approaching the base of the Poggio, the peloton was coming out of a roundabout and Cavendish was unable to avoid a bollard in the middle of the road. Cavendish tried to swerve around the bollard at the last possible moment, but didn’t react in time and went tumbling to the ground. His bike flew into the air and caused other riders to crash as well.

Cavendish started his season at the Dubai Tour at the beginning of February and won the third stage ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Marcel Kittle (Katusha-Alpecin). Since the Dubai Tour, Cavendish has crashed out of the last three races he has entered over the last month.

The 2009 Milano-Sanremo winner suffered a concussion due to a fall in the neutral zone on stage one of the Abu Dhabi Tour when the autonomous braking system in the commissaires car in front of the peloton suddenly activated and caused riders to slow suddenly. Cavendish abandoned the race and was forced to spend a few days in Abu Dhabi before flying back to Europe due to the concussion.

Cavendish then crashed during the opening team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico, his first race back after the concussion. He finished the stage, but crossed the line outside of the time limit for the stage, so was unable to start stage two. Dimension Data late revealed that Cavendish broke a rib in the crash.

It was also a difficult finale to Milano-Sanremo for Lotto-Soudal with Greipel, Jasper De Buyst, and Jen Keukeleire all going down inside the final 10 kilometers. De Buyst also crashed on the descent of the Poggio, while Keukeleire was involved in the crash with Cavendish.

“Of course we are disappointed that we had such bad luck today,” Lotto-Soudal sports manager Marc Sergeant said in a team release. “As a team, we probably rode one of our best editions of Milano-Sanremo. Until 10 kilometers from the finish, Jasper De Buyst, Jens Debusschere, and André Greipel were still part of the first group. Jasper and André crashed on the descent of the Poggio. Jens Debusschere got held up because of that crash. We had already lost Jens Keukeleire just before the foot of the Poggio.”

Lotto-Soudal reported that Keukeleire hurt his hip and De Buyst had abrasions on his left side and hurt his hand, wrist, and arm. The team said in a statement that Greipel and De Buyst will undergo further examination.

Greipel also crashed in the feed zone 130 kilometers into the race, but escaped that crash with only a few abrasions. He rejoined the peloton at the top of the Turchino Pass.