RadioShack's Gert Steegmans crashes, likely out of Paris-Nice
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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Steegmans crashes and breaks collarbone, out of Paris-Nice

by VeloNation Press at 9:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice
 

Today's opening prologue in Paris-Nice ended badly for RadioShack sprinter Gert Steegmans, with the Belgian crashing on a downhill just 4 kilometers into the 8 kilometer course. He was taken away with a broken collarbone, which means his race is now over.

Team leader Lance Armstrong commented on his Twitter account: "Shit! Hearing Steegmans crashed and perhaps broke his collarbone in #parisnice. Bummer!"

Steegmans was the American team's designated sprinter for Paris-Nice, and was also expected to head up RadioShack's Classics campaign on the cobbles of Belgium and northern France.  Now it seems that his bad luck has continued leaving his participation during the Spring in question.

“Gert crashed on the descent of the first of two climbs, just on the fastest part where everyone was riding more than 70kph.  There was an opening of maybe 20 meters between a house and a hedge.  I saw the wind coming.  Leaves and tree branches flew in the air and a second later Gert was lifted in the air too. He was blown away from the road and tumbled over and over many times.  It was a terrible crash.  I’ve never seen such a thing in my life.

"It took 12 minutes for the ambulance to arrive while we waited and could do nothing.  Gert was screaming all the time.  He seemed to have broken more than one thing.  This is very bad news for him.  He would have been our leader in the Classics.”

The doctors hope he can train again soon thanks to osteosynthesis (fixing his break with a plate and screws).  On Monday the Team Doctor will bring Steegmans to the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-van-Lourdes Hospital in Waregem, Belgium, where Dr. Sioen will perform the shoulder operation.

The Belgian is a two-time stage winner in the Tour de France, and last year had hoped for a strong season after leaving the Quick Step team. A disagreement with his then Katusha team over its anti-doping policies saw him essentially forced out of the team.  Steegmans didn’t agree with a clause the team introduced which stated that a positive test would result in a fine five times that of the annual salary, and the net result was that he stopped racing after the Dauphiné Libéré.

He got off to a great start this season finishing second to HTC-Columbia's Andre Greipel in the first stage of the Tour Down Under, but was soon derailed by a heavy fall in Portugal at the Vuelta ao Algarve which caused a concussion.  The RadioShack rider was back in action at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to open the Belgian racing calendar, but finished well back of race winner Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky).

UPDATED @ 2:00PM EST

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