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The spring classics could be in danger for Saxo Bank captain Frank Schleck, who crashed hard late in Wednesday’s stage at the Vuelta al País Vasco.
Schleck said he was knocked off his bike by another rider in the peloton as the pack roared down the day’s final third-category climb with less than 15km to go. The elder Schleck brother was able to finish the stage, but team officials said he likely will not start Thursday’s decisive climbing stage.
Schleck was banged up and received stitches on the back of his head, but wasn’t otherwise seriously injured. VeloNews saw Schleck just as he was leaving Saxo Bank’s team hotel to go to a local hospital for a check-up in Vittoria.
Schleck was angry following the accident and told VeloNews that the crash should have never happened.
“It was some (rider) from FDJeux. We told him three times to take it easy and he came straight into me and knocked me off my bike,” Schleck said, without revealing the name of the rider. “Sometimes it’s about respect. I was not going to be challenging for the sprint … I don’t know how I am right now.”
The crash couldn’t have come at a worse time for Schleck, who was riding strong at the challenging País Vasco race.
Officials said Schleck probably would not start Thursday’s stage and were hopeful that he did not suffer a concussion or any other injuries that could endanger his spring classics campaign.
A former winner at Amstel Gold Race, Schleck is regarded as a consistent threat for victory during Ardennes week, which begins next weekend in Holland.