Crash hits big names

By Shane Stokes in Gent Race leader Fabian Cancellara, Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), Francisco...

By Shane Stokes in Gent

Race leader Fabian Cancellara, Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval) and many other riders fell inside the final two kilometres of the stage to Gent, with some more badly hurt than others.

George Hincapie came across the line quite far back and, like Robbie McEwen, looked very pale. He appeared to be in shock. It was later confirmed that he has bruising to his right knee but will start Tuesday's third stage. Discovery Channel team-mate Tomas Vaitkus was less fortunate; he fractured his right thumb and will not start stage three.

Mark Cavendish has had wretched luck so far, crashing on Sunday and missing out on his chance of a home win, and then hitting the deck hard in Gent.

He rolled across the line with cuts and a shredded jersey. The upset rider declined to give any comment. Predictor-Lotto lead-out man Fred Rodriguez also wanted to get to the team bus as fast as possible. He was holding his arm in such a way to suggest that his collarbone or ribs were damaged.

Team-mate Chris Horner explained what happened. "I was behind it, with three kilometres to go I started backing off.. Everybody went down. Thor went down, Cancellara went down, Ventoso went down, two guys from my team too – Leif [Hoste] and Freddy Rodriguez both crashed. Luckily I was pretty far back so I wasn't involved."

Ventoso is worried about the damage he sustained. "I just couldn't avoid the crash. I tried to brake, but there was nowhere I could ride ahead. And even if I'd managed to stay on my bike, I would've been caught by those coming behind.

"I was feeling good and confident, well-placed, but this is what you expect from these kind of finales. I fell on my bike, and I think most of my injuries came from hitting it. I've injured my knee and my elbow, and my hand hurts badly, I can't rest it on a table. But I'm really worried about my hip. I hope it's nothing serious, but I can tell I'm having a hard time walking."

CSC rider Fränk Schleck also came a cropper, but his fall took place earlier in the stage. He chased back on but said he was unsure as to how his arm was. "I hope I am alright. I have to look at my elbow tonight but I hope it is okay."

There was however one benefit. "I was too far back to be near the crash at the end," he stated.

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