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  "I crashed hard and got a cut below my left knee"

Photo: Unipublic/Graham Watson








05.03.2013 @ 11:24 Posted by Jesper Johannesen


Astana's plans to launch a bid for overall Paris-Nice victory with Jacob Fuglsang was dealt a heavy blow yesterday with the confirmation of the abandonment of teammate Kevin Seeldraeyers. A crash late in the first stage has left him with a deep cut to his knees, and he will be forced to rest for eight days.


Belgian climber Kevin Seeldraeyers was seen as the key mountain domestique for Jakob Fuglsang's Paris-Nice ambitions. With the announcement of Kevin Seeldraeyer's abandonment, he will now have to look to Egor Silin and Andrey Zeits to step up their game when the race hits the mountains later in the week.


It was a hard crash with 20 km left of the stage which left Seeldraeyers with numerous injuries. He was one of many riders who ran into a white, plastic traffic island barrier on a short S-curve. He managed to finish the stage, but medical examinations revealed that further participation was impossible.


"I crashed hard and got a cut below my left knee that is very deep and needs stitches," Seeldraeyers explained. "I can move the knee and bend it, but if I move and bend it a lot the stitches can come out, and then I have to go back to the doctor. I'm off the bike for eight days until it can heal enough to pedal."


With the mountains looming, sport director Dmitriy Fofonov regretted the loss.


"The situation is not rosy," he said. "Kevin got a very deep wound in the flexible part of his left knee, and any more bending would cause the stitches to bend to the point of bursting. Race doctors don't recommend that he continue, and our team physician Dr. Raquel Ortolano agrees. He comes off the bike for at least eight days, but he remains motivated and intends on a quick return to racing. It's a serious loss for the team and for Fuglsang in the mountains."


Seeldraeyers will now head home to recover from his injuries.


Bozic in the top 10

The team had, however, also reasons for satisfaction on an otherwise difficult day. After a strong 8th place in the prologue, the team's sprinter Borut Bozic was targeting bonus seconds which could have given him a stint in the yellow jersey.


Bozic tried in the final sprint and delivered a solid 9th place. It was a solid performance if it was not rewarded with the overall lead.


"At the meeting this morning Borut said he felt it would be best to conserve his firepower for the finish, as it looked likely that a breakaway would take the intermediate time bonuses," Fofonov explained of the tactics. "At the finish he was in a good position, but drifted right in the final 200m and was across the line in ninth. The team worked to get him there in the last hour, and the finish itself was wide and safe."


Bozic remains three seconds behind new overall leader Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), but gets another chance to take over the lead on today's 200,5 km second stage. In the final kilometer, the road rises at an average of 3% which should suit the powerful Slovenian who won in a similar finish in the Tour de Suisse in 2011.



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