Valverde plays down extent of Tour de France crash
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Valverde plays down extent of Tour de France crash

by Agence France-Presse at 6:34 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Spaniard Alejandro Valverde played down the effects of a crash which came close to ending his yellow jersey bid during the 232km fifth stage of the Tour de France here Wednesday.

The former race leader and winner of the opening stage went over the handlebars at the 90km mark, suffering knee, forearm and collarbone injuries after he rode over reflective 'cat's eyes' in the middle of the road.

The Spaniard got back on his bike to continue the race and finished the stage, won by Britain's Mark Cavendish in a sprint finish, with his 1min 27sec deficit to race leader Stefan Schumacher intact.

More importantly, Valverde did not lose any time to overall race favourite Cadel Evans of Australia, who still has a 1:06 lead on the Spaniard.

Valverde later played down the extent of his injuries, but claimed his side was a sight to behold. "You would think I've just wrestled with a lion," said the Spaniard, who suffered his biggest setback of the race so far in Tuesday's time trial, where he lost 1:07 to Evans.

"We were racing along at about 55km/h and then I went over a cat's eyes reflector in the middle of the road. I lost my balance and went over. "Afterwards I dropped back to see the race doctor and got back to the peloton relatively easily after a 10km chase. "I've given my collarbone a knock, as well as my knee and the calf of my right leg but I don't feel much pain."

Caisse d'Epargne team manager Eusebio Unzue said he may take Valverde to hospital for a scan depending on a first diagnosis from the team doctor. "His shoulder is hurting and he's got grazes on his forearm and his elbow, but for now we're not treating it as too serious," said Unzue. "First he will see the team doctor and then, if needed, we will go to hospital to check things out."

Valverde appears likely to begin Thursday's stage, the first in the medium mountains, although his rivals will have taken note of his setback. The Spaniard, on his fourth Tour campaign and with his best chance so far of winning the race, finished sixth last year after leaving the two previous editions because of injuries sustained from crashes.

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