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U.S. Postal rider Christian Vande Velde and Fassa Bortolo’s Ivan Basso have been forced out of the Tour de France due to injuries the two young riders suffered in separate accidents during the seventh stage of France’s national tour on Saturday.
Vande Velde, a 25-year-old Boulder, Colorado resident suffered a broken left arm, bruises on his neck and shoulder and a possible concussion after missing a turn on the descent of the Category 2. Col d’ Adelspach and striking a metal post.
Vande Velde lay on the ground until his team car came to his aid. He then got up and rode for about two-and-half kilometers before deciding that his injuries were serious enough to warrant medical attention.
Vande Velde’s father John told VeloNews that he had just returned from spending the opening days of the Tour in France and Belgium, but was now on his way back to Europe to be with his injured son.
“He was so fit,” the older Vande Velde said. “He’s at 145 pounds, climbing well and was feeling ready to take this one on. I feel awful for him. He was so ready to ride far into the mountains with these guys this year.”
Vande Velde had to pull out of last year’s Tour, just one day before the start because of the effects of an infected spider bite.
The Postal squad had placed great hope in Vande Velde, who was an integral part of two-time champion Lance Armstrong’s debut Tour victory in 1999 – only his second year as a professional.
Later, in the closing kilometers of the the 162.5km seventh stage between Strasbourg and Colmar, Basso – a member of the winning five-man breakaway – crashed on a turn on the final descent, descent of the Collet du Linge.
While Basso managed to finish the stage in fifth place, the 23-year-old Italian apparently suffered a hairline fracture of his collarbone in the accident. The team later announced that Basso would not sign in for tomorrow’s stage.
Basso, the world junior champion in 1998, was regarded as a potential stage winner for the Fassa Bortolo team, already weakened by the departure of team leader Francesco Casagrande.