By Jean-François Quénet
The crash involving Ian McLeod and Kevin Hulsmans during the last stage of Paris-Nice has had more consequences than expected for the South African neo-pro from Française des Jeux, who was released by the doctors from Nice's St-Roch hospital last Sunday evening.
The morning following the race, McLeod was taken to another hospital in Antibes, where a torn muscle was diagnosed as well as a large haematoma. He has a tube inserted to allow the leg to drain and must stay in hospital at least until Thursday before he returns home and begins rehabilitation. "This will take a month, including some exercises on the bike," acknowledges his team manager Marc Madiot, who has withdrawn him from the start list of Cholet-Pays de Loire on Sunday.
McLeod may resume racing in May but he will very likely skip the Tour of Italy, for which he was initially scheduled by FDJ. "We still want him to ride a Grand Tour this year and it should be the Tour of Spain, Madiot said. Since we've started this team in 1997, we have never dropped a rider because of an injury. I've told Ian not to worry about his future. We're fully behind him and we'll look after him closely during his rehabilitation."
The 24 year-old from Vereiniging near Johannesburg was so promising that he got starts for the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, the Tour of the Mediterranean and Paris-Nice, a programme that shows a lot of confidence from his directeurs sportifs. On the other hand, FDJ will welcome Carlos Da Cruz back in the squad, where he will partake in the GP Rudy Dhaenens in Belgium on Sunday. The team captain resumed training a month ago after an accident while skiing in December last year.