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Seven riders out of Vuelta a Burgos as injury toll grows after massive crash

Several non-starters for Thursday’s stage three a day after mayhem in northern Spain.

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Seven riders did not start Thursday’s stage 3 in the wake of a huge pileup on Wednesday’s second stage of the Vuelta a Burgos in Spain.

David Dekker (Jumbo-Visma), Jannick Steimle and David Ballerini (both Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Damien Touzé and Clément Berthet (both Ag2r Cïtroen), David González and Orluis Aular (both Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) all had to withdraw due to injuries, with others also hurt but able to continue.

Dekker was thrown to the ground when he lost control on a high-speed downhill before the sprint, with a raised pedestrian crossing catching him unawares and sending him tumbling on the road.

Other riders were caught up in it, provoking a huge pileup and anger and criticism about such road furniture appearing in the finale of a prestigious race. Questions were asked of the UCI and race organizers as to the dangers of what was effectively a speed bump located on a fast descent.

Dekker initially seemed to come away relatively lightly, with the team initially saying the rider had abrasions but didn’t appear to have suffered fractures. However it announced on Thursday morning that he would not continue in the race after his fall.

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Other teams also had riders with injuries. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s Steimle suffered a fractured right collarbone and will travel to Herentals on Thursday for an operation.

Davide Ballerini also came down, leading to abrasions in several places plus a haematoma to his right gluteus. A decision was due to be made on Thursday morning about whether or not he can continue in the event, and he ultimately did not start.

Many riders came down in a high speed crash inside the final kilometer of stage 2 of the race.

Ag2r-Cïtroen’s Touzé hit the barriers and suffered a concussion, described by his team as ‘apparent immediately after his fall.’ The Frenchman was cared for by the race’s medical team and transported conscious by ambulance to Burgos University Hospital.

He received four stitches in his chin, and also has a bruised left thigh with a muscle hematoma.

Teammate Berthet had a fractured finger and was due to be operated on Wednesday night. He did not continue in the race.

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA riders González and Aular also had to withdraw from the race to the injuries they sustained. González was diagnosed with a dislocated elbow and Aular with a fracture to the scaphoid bone in his wrist. It is not yet clear if the latter will need an operation.

Bora-Hansgrohe also had two fallers, Wilco Kelderman and Giro d’Italia winner Jai Hindley.

“The crash in the end was really bad and some riders are unfortunately seriously injured,” said sports director Jens Zemke. “From our boys Wilco and Jai have been involved, but luckily, they seem to be OK.”

In speaking about the circumstances, Movistar’s Iñigo Elosegui wasn’t happy about what happened.

“It was a real beating. It wasn’t just the traffic circle, it’s that we had 500m straight going downhill,” he said in a video on social media. “Tremendous fall that we have experienced today reaching the finish line… at breakneck speed.”

His teammate Mathias Norsgaard came down and suffered abrasions.

The crash fortunately didn’t result in more serious injuries. However it does once again raise questions about safety issues in the sport, particularly in the finale where riders are traveling at very high speeds.

Cycling commentator Brian Smith noted on GCN’s coverage of the race that the finish appeared to contravene regulations. “Last year the UCI stated ‘there must be no obstacles such as road narrowings, traffic islands and speed bumps in the final kilometer.’

“Well that contravenes the UCI regulations, so who signs these things off?”

It’s a question many will be asking in the wake of the crash.