A day to forget for Quick Step in Paris-Nice
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A day to forget for Quick Step in Paris-Nice

by Ben Atkins at 3:43 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice, Injury
Crashes and punctures make stage 3 a miserable one for Belgian team

sylvain chavanelWith Kevin De Weert already on the walking wounded list after crashing near to the end of stage two, stage three of Paris-Nice was one to forget for the Belgian Quick Step team. Further crashes, plus a late puncture and chase for team leader Sylvain Chavanel, made the 202km between Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire and Nuits-Saint-Georges very difficult.

The first incident came when, as the peloton chased the breakaway through one of the picturesque villages of Burgundy with less than 30km to go, Gert Steegmans crashed on the outside of a corner. The tough Belgian was quickly back up on his bike, though, and rejoined the peloton without too much trouble, but it set the tone for the team’s luck in the closing kilometres of the stage.

A potentially more serious incident occurred with just 8km to go when team captain Sylvain Chavanel punctured, just as the peloton was accelerating to catch the late break of French champion Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Blel Kadri (AG2R La Mondiale). The Frenchman, who has targeted the overall classification, faced a hard chase back to the peloton if he was not to lose any time.

Thankfully Chavanel made it just as the peloton passed the 3km to go banner. Coincidentally, this was just as De Weert put his hand up for a “puncture”, which meant that the patched up Belgian missed out on the chaos and danger of the final sprint.

The worst incident to affect the team, though, came in the finishing straight as Nikolas Maes was brought down by the flying bike of Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale). The Slovakian’s rear tyre rolled off as he took the right-angle corner with 300m to go, pitching him onto the tarmac and his bike into the air.

Maes was taken to hospital in nearby Dijon, where x-rays appear to have excluded any fracture; he has been diagnosed with a trauma to his pelvis.

"I was setting up the exit from the corner when suddenly I was on the ground due to a bike that hit my rear wheel,” said Maes. “I ended up against the barriers and the pain was immediately very strong. It’s a shame because I was in a good position for the sprint. In this moment I have a lot of pain but I hope to take the start tomorrow.”

As was the case with De Weert, Maes and the Quick Step medical staff will decide whether he will line up on the start line tomorrow.


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