Garmin-Transitions rider Christian Vande Velde, who had hoped to compete for a podium position in the 2010 Tour de France, has been forced to withdraw with numerous injuries sustained in multiple crashes during Stage Two of the prestigious bicycle race.
Vande Velde was part of a wave of crashes that felled half the field on the slopes of the Col de Stockeu. Belgian cycling icon Eddy Merckx, a five-time Tour winner, speculated after the race that possibly a support car had leaked oil on the road. He said he had never seen so many riders go down at once.
“I crashed once right before the Stockeu,” said Vande Velde on the Garmin site. “Riders crashed in front of me and I wasn’t able to avoid them, so I went down.
“Then another rider lost control in front of me and again, I couldn’t avoid it. I crashed and landed in a ditch. At that point my eye was bleeding pretty badly and the pain in my side and my back was excruciating.”
Four Garmin riders hit the pavement during Monday’s race; three of whom visited the hospital after the race, according to the Garmin website.
Vande Velde sustained a left eyelid laceration requiring multiple stitches, along with two broken ribs. Sprinter Tyler Farrar sprained his left elbow, fractured his left wrist, and suffered multiple contusions and abrasions.
Leadout rider Julian Dean had a large contusion on his upper back. Time trial specialist and leadout rider David Millar refused hospital treatment, but may have a broken rib.
With the exception of Vande Velde, the Garmin team will start tomorrow’s stage despite their injuries. Stage Three features several sections of punishing pavés, or cobblestones, which will be very dangerous if it rains.
This has been a very hard season for Vande Velde. He crashed in the Giro d’Italia and broke his collarbone, and then broke three ribs in the Tour de Suisse.