On the eve of the final two mountain stages of this year’s Vuelta a España, several of those in the top ten crashed on today’s race to Talavera de la Reina. 126 kilometres after the start in Ciudad Real, a large group went down, with approximately twenty to thirty riders being involved.
Amongst those hitting the deck were second-placed Robert Gesink (Rabobank), sixth-placed Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream), ninth overall. All were able to finish the stage and their injuries will be assessed this evening.
Gesink suffered a large cut to his left knee. He spoke with Rabobank directeur sportif Erik Breukink immediately after the finish and both entered an ambulance which was parked beside the team bus. Neither commented at the time, but team spokesman Luuc Eisenga said afterwards that a decision will be taken later on about his continuation.
"Robert is in hospital at the moment together with our team doctor and Eric Breukink. There we will see the seriousness of his injury, what treatment he needs and, finally, if he can stay in the race. It’s too soon to say, but obviously an injury like that needs to be evaluated."
If he is forced to withdraw, it will be a big blow to the young Dutchman. He had to withdraw from the Tour de France this year due to a broken wrist, and told Cyclingnews before the stage start that his Vuelta performance had given him a lot of satisfaction.
Mosquera was seen taking a replacement helmet during the stage and confirmed to reporters after the finish that he hit his head. "I don’t remember anything," he stated. "I was dizzy after the crash. The first thing I can remember is that my teammates were pushing me along."
He has also gone to hospital for assessment and will also decide later if he will continue.
Danielson was less affected by the incident, but said afterwards that he still doesn’t feel 100% in terms of his health.
"I hit the ground hard in the crash with Gesink and Mosquera," he told Cyclingnews. "I don't even remember it, actually, it all happened so fast.
"I still have this lingering cough from getting sick five days ago, and I've lost my voice – it’s frustrating. I would be so grateful if I just woke up tomorrow and this thing was gone. Riding a Grand Tour is hard. Riding GC in a Grand Tour is really hard. Riding GC in a Grand Tour while fighting off some stupid illness is really, really tough."
His teammate Dan Martin said that it took quite some time to bring Danielson back up to the peloton. "We had a bit of a scare when Tom crashed," said Martin. "Although a load of riders went down, the sprinters’ teams didn’t wait at all and we were chasing for ages."
Other riders affected were Kevin De Weert (Quick Step) and Oliver Kaisen (Silence - Lotto), who both suffered mutiple cuts and scrapes, and Gonzalo Rabunal Ríos (Xacobeo Galicia), who needed to get sutures to his left knee.