Nuyens doubtful for Flanders with hip fracture

Defending RVV champ to take two weeks off the bike after Paris-Nice crash

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Defending Tour of Flanders champion Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank) will likely miss the spring classics after doctors diagnosed a fracture in his right hip.

Nuyens crashed in Sunday’s opening time trial at Paris-Nice and pulled out in the opening kilometers of Monday’s stage. Doctors confirmed that Nuyens will be forced to sit out for two weeks with no training to allow the injury to heal.

Saxo Bank team officials said Nuyens will likely be unable to defend his Flanders title on April 1.

“This is an enormous blow to me personally and to the team, and I’m of course very sad right now,” Nuyens said in a team release Tuesday. “I really felt I was on schedule to peak again in Tour of Flanders, and I was looking very much forward to defend my victory. But now I know this is not going to happen. Crashes do happen in cycling, that’s just the way it is, and I have to accept that, but this crash couldn’t come at a worse time.”

Initial reports seemed to indicate no major injuries for the Belgian classics specialist, who saw his career revived last year with a move to Saxo Bank after a string of setbacks at Rabobank.

Nuyens went to see specialists after returning to Belgium, who confirmed the bad news. Doctors said another X-ray exam in two weeks’ time will determine if Nuyens can resume training. Two weeks entirely off the bike — just a month out of the classics — will prove fatal to Nuyens’ chances, and everyone at Saxo Bank knows it.

“We all feel very sorry for Nick today, as we all knew how much he was looking forward to coming back to the Tour of Flanders and defending last year’s great win,” said team boss Bjarne Riis in a press note. “And this is also very sad news for the whole team. We were really looking forward to supporting him in the coming weeks, and Nick showed great signs that his peak form was right in front of him. Now we just wish him a speedy recovery, and I’m sure he will return strong and eager to make his mark in other races.”

The news comes as an additional blow for Riis and Saxo Bank, who have already lost Alberto Contador for the 2012 Tour de France after the Spanish rider was banned through August in his controversial clenbuterol case.