During a very fast and nervous stage two of the Driedaagse de Panne, furthermore influenced by strong winds, many riders crashed and had to abandon the race. Gert Steegmans (Davitamon-Lotto), who was third overall on the general classification, came down after only 27 kilometres. He was examined at the hospital at Oudenaarde, but fortunately no fracture was discovered. A deep cut on Steegmans' left arm was stitched, and his other superficial wounds at the hand and the leg attended to. The team is still hoping that he will be able to participate this coming Sunday at the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Russian Alexander Efimkin (Team Barloworld) was also affected by the crash, as he had to abandon and was taken to hospital.
Another rider who had to abandon the race after only 20 kilometres was Phonak's Bert Grabsch, but he was less lucky: his team director Adriano Baffi thinks that the German rider will not be able to race this weekend. "He won't make it to the Tour of Flanders," said Baffi.
Team Volksbank's Patrick Riedesser already crashed out on stage one, but could leave back to Austria on Wednesday after further examination and treatment in the Zottegem hospital. "It happened about 50 kms before the finish," Riedesser said. "The guy in front of me broke his fork, so I didn't have a chance - I crashed into and over him with about 50 km/h." Fortunately, the 29 year-old did not break his shoulder, as had been the initial assumption, and could leave the hospital with heavy bruises and scratches, as well as six stitches on his right elbow.
Also see: Driedaagse van De Panne stage 2 full results, report & photos.