Lutsenko to miss Olympics after training ride collision

Astana rider injuries his ankle in final ride in Monaco

Kazakhstan's Alexey Lutsenko will miss the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after a collision with a car during one of his final training rides in Monaco on Friday. 

The Astana rider was taken to a Monaco hospital after the collision and diagnosed with a foot injury that will keep him out of action for three weeks. He was due to travel to Brazil during the weekend for the road race scheduled for Sunday August 6, the day after the official opening ceremony of the Rio Games. He was also due to represent Kazakhstan in the time trial on August 10. The news was first reported by Kazakhstan media and confirmed to Cyclingnews by the Astana team.

Astana team manager Alexandre Vinokourov had hoped the 23 year-old rider would follow in his footsteps after his gold medal in the road race at London 2012. Vinokourov gave Lutsenko special attention and freedom within in the Astana team, setting him a race programme that would leave him in peak form for the Rio Olympics.

Lutsenko was considered an outsider for a medal in Rio due to his strength and aggression in one-day races. He has the climbing ability for the tough course in Rio but the speed and tactical acumen to take on expected favourites Alejandro Valverde of Spain, Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and the Great Britain team lead by Tour de France winner Chris Froome. He won a stage at Paris-Nice with a solo attack and did the same to win a stage at the 2015 Tour de Suisse. Lutsenko also won the Under 23 world title in 2012, beating Bryan Coquard of France in a mass sprint after the climb of the Cauberg.

"It's a shame that it happened right now, during his final training!" Vinokourov was quoted as saying on Kazakhstan website vesti.kz.

"Alex has just successfully completed a difficult Tour de France, which was his preparation before the Olympics, and he was in great shape. The news is a shock for all of us. Things had gone smoothly all year preparing for Rio and now this happened in the final stretch. I really believed he was going to be a contender for a medal.”

"We did everything possible to avoid any problems but cycling, as we all know, is one of the most traumatic and difficult sports. I can only wish Alex a speedy recovery."

According to reports in Kazakhstani media, Lutsenko will be replaced by Andrey Zeits, who will ride both the road race and the time trial.

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