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Astana Pro Team riders Fredrik Kessiakoff and Janez Brajkovic both abandoned the Tour de France on Thursday.

Photo: Sirotti






05.07.2013 @ 09:05 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

Swedish rider Kessiakoff crashed during Wednesday’s stage, injuring his right forearm, both elbows, chest and left knee. He started the 176km stage from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier with bandages and an extremely sore torso, and when the peloton accelerated after the first half hour of racing he was unable to get out of the saddle to respond to the accelerations of the bunch.


Brajkovic crashed straight into a traffic island in the final kilometres of Thursday's stage, opening a large wound on his left knee, breaking a flange in his left hand and scraping his chin on the asphalt. Despite severe pains he managed to complete the stage and was examined by two Tour de France surgeons and the Astana Pro Team doctor at a mobile hospital in the finish line area where he received internal and external stitches to his knee wound.


"I was really scared when I saw the size and depth of the hole in my knee," Brajkovic said on the Astana website. "I knew it was bad, but I wanted to finish because you never know. The doctors were very fast and very professional, and they sewed up both of the wounds. They also said that when the anaesthetic wears off I am going to be in a lot of pain," Brajkovic added.


Kessiakoff said there are always one or two big crashes every day in the first week of the Tour de France.


"It's nobody's fault. It's the Tour de France, everybody is here to do a good job, everybody is here to work for their captain, and everybody wants to be at the front of the race. The road is only so wide, and it is impossible for everybody to be at the front," Kessiakoff said. "I couldn't shift today I was in so much pain, and when the crosswinds started and the peloton was speeding up, I couldn't accelerate and hold on to the bars because my whole body was in pain. I'm sorry for myself and I'm sorry for the team, because six guys now have to do the work of nine for the next two and a half weeks."


The withdrawals of Brajkovic and Kessiakoff represent serious blows to team leader Jakob Fuglsang’s ambitions for a top ten finish.


The Danish rider would not alter his plans as a consequence of the misfortunes, however.


“The goal remains the same, it's just not going to be any easier," Fuglsang said.



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