By Andrew Hood
Christian Vande Velde (CSC) was forced to abandon the 64th Paris-Nice after crashing hard on his left shoulder in a tumble in Tuesday’s hilly second stage.
X-rays later showed that there was no break in his clavicle and Vande Velde was optimistic that he could be back on the bike in time to start his next scheduled race, Criterium International, at the end of March.
“There’s nothing broken, that’s the good news,” Vande Velde told VeloNews via telephone. “It hurts pretty bad, though. When you get to know your body pretty well, you know when something’s not right.”
Vande Velde said he crashed when the peloton slowed down and squeezed together as it came to a narrow bridge. Riders fell in front of him and he simply couldn’t stop in time.
“I just couldn’t brake fast enough,” he said. “I landed directly on a wheel in front of me. Nothing else even hit the ground.”
Mirko Celestino (Milram) and Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues) also crashed out in the stage, won by Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Innergetic) in a sprint.
Vande Velde expressed frustration with the mishap. His season started well with a solid ninth-place overall at last month’s Amgen Tour of California and he was in the top 20 in Sunday’s opening prologue.
“Hopefully in two or three weeks, I can get out there again. I hope to be ready for the Giro,” he said. “I have to wait and see. Sometimes there are hairline fractures that don’t show up in the X-rays.”
If so, it would not be the first time Vande Velde has broken his clavicle. He couldn’t remember for sure, but thought he’d done that “three or four times.”