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Karsten Kroon (BMC) at the front of the early break.
Vanmarcke fell into ravine with BMC Dutchman, but finished stage
Karsten Kroon (BMC) and Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Cervelo) crashed out of the winning 18-man break on the high-speed descent of the Puerto de La Ventana, approximately 111 kilometres into the 173.2km 14th stage at the Vuelta a Espana. The BMC Dutchman and Garmin-Cervelo Belgian both hit a guardrail and plummeted into a 30 metre-deep, wooded ravine alongside the race route.
Kroon broke his arm and abandoned, while Vanmarcke, visibly shaken as he was assisted out of the ravine, re-joined the race and ultimately finished the stage in 176th place, 30:20 down on stage winner and breakaway companion Rein Taaramae (Cofidis).
BMC's Directeur Sportif John Lelangue, who was following the breakaway but several cars back in the caravan, said no one saw the riders go off the narrow road. "We understand it happened in a curve, a left one, which was looking dangerous," Lelangue said. "In fact, I informed [BMC Racing Team assistant director] Rik Verbrugghe it was dangerous. So I remember well passing there. There was nothing on the ground – no bike, no bottles and no spectators. So no one could inform us that something had happened."
Kroon's injuries are limited to a fractured left forearm, BMC's team doctor Giovanni Ruffini said. For Kroon, it was his second broken bone of the 2011 season as earlier this year he broke his left collarbone in a crash at the Tour of Flanders.
Kroon said he doesn't remember much about the crash because he lost consciousness. "I remember two guys who more or less attacked on the descent," Kroon said. "They both crashed and I think I came around the turn and they were there, or somebody was there. I don't remember."
The 35-year-old Dutchman later stated on Twitter, "Broke my arm today going over the guardrail. Had bad amnesia, 2 weeks were gone, but it's slowly coming back. Scary."