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 "There was immediate pain in my left wrist and I thought maybe it was the old fracture of last year during the Tour de France. But the first thing was to get to the final and not to lose too much time, then to see at the hospital...

Photo: Sirotti










01.04.2013 @ 20:49 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Omega Pharma-Quick Step were once again unlucky in today's first stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Having placed GC captain Tony Martin in the front end of the peloton, he was involved in a crash at the top of the final climb and while he was lucky to escape any fractures, his GC hopes were dealt a serious blow.


Omega Pharma-Quick Step's run of bad luck seems to have no end. After Tom Boonen's crash in yesterday's Tour of Flanders, the team's hopes of an overall top performance by Tony Martin in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco have been drastically weakened after the world time trial champion was involved in a crash towards the end of today's first stage.


The team had made sure to place their GC captain in a perfect position near the front end of the peloton on the day's final climb, but disaster struck when they crested the summit with just 7km to go. Martin hit the ground and even though he managed to finish the stage, his time loss of 28 seconds to the likes of Alberto Contador and Richie Porte makes it difficult for him to realistically target an overall victory.


However, his main concern was not his time loss, but the fear of another fracture to the wrist which forced him to leaves last year's Tour de France prematurely. Luckily, x-rays did not show any broken bones, and he expects to start tomorrow's stage.


"We were riding in the first part of the peloton and I only heard the noise of the crash and suddenly we were lying on the ground," he said. "There was immediate pain in my left wrist and I thought maybe it was the old fracture from last year's Tour de France. But the first thing was to get to the final and not to lose too much time, then to see at the hospital if there were any fractures. Fortunately, the results seemed to exclude any fractures. So, it's more important that I am OK, than the fact that I lost time."


Fracture for Devenyns

Dries Devenyns was not as lucky as his team captain. The powerful Belgian was using the race as preparation for the Ardennes classics where he was expected to be one of the team leaders. He had showed strong form in Catalunya and seemed to be on track for a good performance in his major events.


Those hopes have now been laid firmly to rest. He was also involved in the crash, and subsequent examinations have shown a broken radial bone in his left arm. He will return to Belgium tomorrow for further examinations and a possibly surgery.


"I was there in the first position, but in a certain moment (Jurgen, ed.) Van Den Broeck crashed in front of me and I couldn't avoid him," Devenyns said. "I went to the ground, and we were also going at a high speed. Now I have this fracture of my left arm for a third time. I am not really lucky with these kind of things in my career. It is really a shame because the condition was good and I was looking forward to the Ardennes Classics. Now I have to stay calm, as there is nothing I can do. I can only recover as best I can."


On a bleak day, encouragement was delivered by the team's other GC captain Peter Velits who managed to stay in the 16-man front group and sprinted to a fine 2nd place behind stage winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge.


The race continues with one of the race's easier stages which finishes in the city of Vitoria. With the mostly flat run-in only interrupted by a couple of category 3 climbs, the stage should be another one for the fast men before the GC riders take center stage on Wednesday.


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