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American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) was forced to abandon Paris-Nice during the opening stage on Sunday after being involved in back-to-back crashes with less than 40 kilometers remaining in the stage. The second crash occurred while he was chasing through the caravan to catch back onto the peloton, during which he hit another team’s support car. He sustained multiple abrasions and a cervical sprain due to the crashes, but x-rays revealed no fractures.
“I had the wind knocked out of me and I couldn’t breathe,” van Garderen explained of the second crash in a team statement. “I also had pain in my upper back and neck, so I couldn’t really sit up. When the medics arrived and saw my helmet smashed and that I was having trouble breathing, they put me straight into the ambulance. After a few minutes, I realized it wasn’t so bad. The medics went through some concussion protocols and I didn’t show any signs of a concussion. Fortunately, X-rays showed no fractures.
“It’s good to take precautions but in the end, maybe I could have been able to continue. I have pain in my neck and a bit of a headache, but I don’t feel nauseous. Above all, I’m really disappointed. I had good form at Volta ao Algarve and I was hoping to be able to capitalize on that. Hopefully, I can get back on the bike soon, keep moving forward and maybe look at the race program to make up for the missed days here. It’s only March fourth, so there are plenty of races to come.”
Van Garderen didn’t feel terrible after the initial crash, but the second fall, which involved another team’s support car, was the one that did the most damage. The team car van Garderen hit had stopped to assist one of its riders and at the time, van Garderen explained he had glanced down, as he was having gear troubles and noticed a puncture. That’s when he hit the team car and crashed to the ground. “I don’t know if anyone was at fault, as they had stopped for their rider,” van Garderen said.
BMC Racing’s team doctor, Dr. Michel Cerfontaine, said in a team statement that van Garderen will be able to resume training in about three to four days and will have a follow-up x-ray in a week to determine how the sprain is healing.
The abandon and injuries are an early season blow to van Garderen’s 2018 ambitions, as he entered the season with renewed confidence after finishing 10th overall at the Vuelta a Espana last year. He started the season well with a podium finish in the final general classification at the Volta ao Algarve. Van Garderen finished third overall behind the Team Sky duo of Geraint Thomas and Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky). The latter of which was the overall winner. It remains to be seen how quickly van Garderen will get back to racing and what his next race will be.