News features, January 22, 2008
Reigning Tour Down Under champion André Greipel (Team Columbia) will return to Germany tomorrow morning after crashing out of this year's event on Stage 3. Greipel was one of several riders to collide with a parked Police motorbike after being hammered by a gust of wind on today's stage.
"There was a cross wind, normally the riders show that there is something on the street but no one showed it and there was a motorbike," he said. "I think I'm out for three weeks, but yeah, I'll be back next year."
Greipel was treated for a dislocated shoulder and stitches to wounds on his leg and arm as a result of the collision. He will travel to Team Columbia's medical centre in Hamburg once arriving in Germany to undergo an operation on his shoulder.
"I think I'm out for three weeks, but yeah, I'll be back next year." - Greipel tried to stay upbeat after crashing out.
"No, it was not the wind," he added. "The motorbike was just on the street and we were riding along the left side, then, yeah, there was a motorbike.
"I'm just happy it [wasn't worse]," he said. "Now I am back in the hotel, I don't need to stay at the hospital. It was bad luck. I think I will forget it and just try to come back next year."
Greipel will undergo surgery for the third time, having dislocated his shoulder 15 times already in his short career. The rider said the incident hasn't stemmed his desire to compete in Australia.
"It is very disappointing," said Columbia director Allan Peiper. "You've trained all winter and brought your gun team here to defend the jersey. He had lost the ochre jersey but was three seconds off in second overall – and today's finish was suited to him. It happens, and I'm sure it was nobody's fault. Nobody intended that to happen; maybe the motorcyclist was there directing traffic – the direction of the wind, the riders riding echelon… it just happened to be André.
"I suppose we can consider it to be fortunate – nothing's really broken – he's got a subluxation [partial dislocation] of his shoulder so he'll probably be out for a few weeks or a couple of months," he said. "We've had bike riders bounce back, and hopefully he'll be back quicker than expected."
Greipel was just one of several riders taken out in the incident. Baden Cooke (UniSA), Timothy Gudsell (Française Des Jeux) and Michael Schär (Astana) were all taken away for treatment. Race leader Allan Davis (Quick Step) was also caught up in the incident, but was able to resume racing and eventually finished second.
Gudsell will undergo surgery to have his broken collarbone plated. Schär has suffered damage to a nerve and will be treated at Royal Adelaide Hospital this evening. If surgeons are unable to save the nerve, which isn't crucial to motor function, Schär will loose superficial feeling in the lower half of his leg.
Eight other riders were treated for cuts and abrasions following the stage. One of those was Australian youngster Jack Bobridge (UniSA) who just 24 hours earlier had broken away with Lance Armstrong (Astana), earning the seven time Tour de France winner's praise.
Hayman tells of accident
Rabobank's Matthew Hayman was behind the riders that got blown into the bike and gave Cyclingnews his first hand account of the incident.
"There was a police motorbike parked up on the side of the road – it was a big white thing – and they hit it really hard. I might have been 20 spots behind them and they were flying across the road," he said. "People in Europe who have been around bike races more understand this, but we were on the absolute edge of the road. I guess the guy who parked on the side didn't realise that with those crosswinds and the motorbike being on the white line, plus everyone being in the gutter, Greipel came off second best [when he hit].
"I guess they [policemen] aren't around bike races as much as the special police in France who just do bike races," he added. "Those guys know. If it wasn't a police bike, then it could have been a car; there were lots of them parked on the side of the road."
Hayman went on to help his Rabobank squad chase down the day's strong break. The Rabobank rider and his teammates drove the head of the peloton for 80 kilometres following the crash.