Tom Boonen crashed out of the Abu Dhabi Tour mid-way through stage 2, suffering a head trauma after landing on his left side. Immediate hospital examination of Boonen underlined a left temporal bone fracture, according to an Etixx-QuickStep press release.
"We were scared because we saw he was not conscious for a bit and then there was some blood on the road. It came from his ear. It was not from his brain but from his fracture," Etixx-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere said.
The Etixx-QuickStep rider went down hard, with Theo Bos and Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka) also crashing, just after the first intermediate sprint and 55km of racing. Jim suggested that the crash happened because Bos hit something in the road. Other sources said Boonen was the first to crash.
Boonen lay on the ground with his legs entangled in his bike for several minutes, while race doctors evaluated injuries. He eventually sat up and was carefully put on a stretcher, loaded into an ambulance and taken to hospital for checks and treatment. He had cuts near his ear and on his head, with other abrasions on his left side.
Initially, race doctor told journalists at the race that Boonen lost consciousness for a few seconds but soon sat up. He asked for his bike but doctors decided to take him to hospital.
"It does not seem to be serious but we have to be sure. He was sent to hospital for a proper examination and hopefully he will be okay," the official race doctor Christos Karavolias said, who is assisted at the Abu Dubai Tour by experienced Italian race doctor Stefano Tredici.
"He had some scratches on the side of his head. It was not severe and was not from his ear it was from outside. We will be say more after we have seen the patient."
Tredici explained that Boonen was able to answer questions but was a little dizzy after the crash.
"He told me he couldn’t remember what happened but was able to answer my questions. That’s a good sign. He was just dizzy," Tredici said.
Boonen's team later stated he was lucid in the hospital, but would remain overnight for observation. Bos was also taken to hospital for stitches on an arm injury.