By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Gainesville, Georgia
A high-speed crash sent three riders to the ground during the third stage of the Tour de Georgia, with Slipstream-Chipotle's Timmy Duggan suffering the worst of the incident. Duggan was immediately transported to Athens Regional Hospital by one of the two race ambulances. The team reported to Cyclingnews that Duggan is in a stable condition with a broken left collarbone and left scapula, and will remain in hospital overnight for further testing and observation.
Duggan's wife Loren and parents are en route to Athens to be with him and provide moral support.
Two other riders went down in the crash, Ben Day (Toyota-United) and Corey Collier (Health Net-Maxxis). Collier's bike ended up in three pieces with the head tube and down tube completely severed from the frame. Both Day and Colliers were able to continue and finished the stage. Slipstream's director Chann McRae said Duggan was convulsing by the time the team car reached him.
The crash happened just after the peloton descended down a bluff to cross the Broad River, 65km into the stage. Up to that point the terrain had been flat like the first two days, but the peloton was crossing the bridge at speeds reaching 80km/h when Collier's wheel became wedged in the concrete surface, sending him over the handlebars.
"I came out pretty lucky," said Collier. "Basically, it was the way I went down... as soon as we got onto that bridge, there was a seam in the concrete that swallowed my front wheel. It just came to a standstill when I crossed into it and I was vaulted over the bars. I think Tim [Duggan] was maybe behind me and he rode into me."
The patrons of the peloton, such as George Hincapie (High Road) and Levi Leipheimer (Astana), immediately went to the front of the race to slow the pace, which resulted in the main break of the day.
Keeping with the week's theme of following the letter of the rule book, the commissaires fined both Day and Collier for excessive sheltering behind their respective team cars. "Unfortunately that's bike racing," said Health Net director Mike Tamayo. "The guy's bike was destroyed and you are not going to leave a man out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Georgia. We'll take the fine any day."