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Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) dropped his breakaway companions the final time up the Paterberg and now motors alone to victory.
RadioShack rider falls but finishes Scheldeprijs
Although his torn shorts revealed a contusion near his left hip, Cancellara was able to remount and rejoin the peloton, and given that he went on to finish the race in Schoten, the early outlook is good.
Even so, the RadioShack Leopard team was leaving little to chance at the finish. Cancellara was hastily shepherded away from the microphones and cameras and onto the team bus, where he was examined by the team doctor. Shortly afterwards, manager Luca Guercilena emerged with the initial prognosis but said that the situation would be assessed overnight.
"The biggest hit was on the gluteus and that's the muscular situation but that is close to the sacrum joint so that is something to investigate when he cools down," Guercilena said. "He didn't consider abandoning because it was good to arrive at the finish and when the muscles are still warm, you can do it. It was not a bad, bad crash but it's not the ideal situation we wanted."
Guercilena described Cancellara's crash as typical and said that he could not avoid hitting the ground as two riders had fallen directly in front of him. "He was in the first echelon but he was unlucky," Guercilena said. "Two riders touched in front of him and he couldn't jump over it, so he touched them and he was on the ground. He's checking now with the doctor and we'll see tonight and especially tomorrow morning how he is."
Cancellara is the overwhelming favourite for victory at Paris-Roubaix in the wake of his emphatic win at the Tour of Flanders last weekend. Guercilena dismissed the notion that Cancellara would have been better served by forgoing Scheldeprijs and limiting the risk of an accident upsetting his Roubaix preparation.
"His condition is quite high but it was good to do some kilometres in the bunch with a high rhythm," Guercilena said. "A crash can always happen, but at least it happened when he was in front, so even though it's never nice, it happened in a good situation. So we are quite confident."
For now, Guercilena said, Cancellara is aiming to continue with his planned build-up to Paris-Roubaix. "Tomorrow will be the typical recognition of part of the course, and then an easy ride on Friday and Saturday," he said. "Right now, we're keeping the same programme but we'll see how it is.
"The goal is always next Sunday but that's the situation right now after the race but we need to wait until tomorrow morning, which is always the way with this kind of crash. It's not that bad now but you have to sleep on it and decide after what is the right thing to do. It's evident that it's not a real bad injury but we would like to be sure tomorrow how it is. Anyway, it's not the ideal situation to arrive to Paris-Roubaix."