US road champion Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing) was forced to abandon the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Wednesday after being involved in a high-speed downhill crash that took down about 20 riders.
Reports initially said that Busche had broken his collarbone, but X-rays revealed there was no fracture. His team said that it’s not clear yet whether Busche will be able to start the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado later this month.
The crash occurred roughly 100km into the 171km stage when riders were descending off the Trappers Loop climb. A report on the team website said Busche and teammate Frank Schleck touched wheels at about 80km/h, with Busche hitting the deck hard.
“It was not a fun crash,” Busche said after being released from the hospital. “It was one of the worst, most painful crashes I’ve had, but thankfully it looks to be mostly bruising.”
Schleck told Cyclingnews after the stage that the crash was incredibly frightening. “He’s had some bad luck in the beginning of the season, and now his bad crash it really scares me a lot,” Schleck said. “You know I’m not the youngest one anymore, and to crash at 80km/h is just, uh, I hope he’s going to be alright.”
Chris Horner, a former teammate of Busche’s on RadioShack, said he felt bad for his friend and hopes he will bounce back quickly.
“That’s awful for Matthew,” Horner said. “He’s riding good, and of course Frank’s here and he’s going to need some help here and Matthew was going to be the guy to help him out if not be the leader of the team himself.
“I don’t know why they crashed on the descent, though. Ok, we were going fast, but there was no fight for positioning. It should have been calm and relaxed. It was only just high speed that we were doing.”
Schleck and Busche, the current US road champion who finished second at the Tour of Utah in 2012, shared the leader’s role for the team. Now Schleck will take up that role in earnest, although he’s been suffering from an ailment that makes it hard to sit in the saddle.
“We don’t know with Frank because he has a saddle sore and we just go day by day and we will see,” Trek director Alain Gallopin told Cyclingnews. “He has strong legs, but we just need to know how he is going. His fitness is good. I know him well and his fitness is good.”
Gallopin said the team has two young riders that it expects to be in the mix when the race heads toward the big mountains this weekend.
“We have two young guys behind him, the two stagiaires, who look very well,” Gallopin said. “Leonardo [Basso] was in the front and Julian [Bernard] was just behind, but they did a great job. We will see. Utah is a hard race, and we’ll take it day by day.”
Although the loss of Busche is a big blow to the Trek team, Horner said he doesn’t think it will have much affect on how the team approaches the race.
“Trek hasn’t ridden the front all week, and I don’t know if they were planning on riding the front anytime at all,” Horner said.
“I don’t think this will change that. I don’t mean any disrespect for Matthew’s crash; I’m a friend of Matthew’s and I wish him the best. We’ve been teammates and I know his wife really well, but that team hasn’t ridden one time this week. So in terms of that question it means nothing, but my heart goes out to Matthew because he is a top-notch rider and a good American.”
Schleck also said he wasn’t sure how Busche’s absence would change the team’s chances for a good overall result.
“Myself, I have problems with – not saddle sores – but I am really troubled by just sitting on the bike,” Schleck said. “So I hope it’s going to be OK for the next few days and then we’ll see what happens.
“There are some strong riders out there. We saw a group go today that was very strong. Horner is very strong, Dombrowski, yeah, and there’s some Colombians here that are also going really strong, so we’ll see what we can do.”