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While the professional teams from Europe and North America are drawn to Argentina's Tour de San Luis as a perfect way to ease into the race season due to the warm weather and challenging parcours, they're not immune from the dangers of road racing and the risk riders take each time they pin on a number.
As the peloton was speeding towards the base of the decisive finishing climb to Mirador del Sol late in Saturday's sixth stage, a crash involving approximately 20-30 riders occurred, with Vincenzo Nibali among the most prominent riders to fall. The 29-year-old Italian, whose primary goal for the 2014 season is the Tour de France, escaped relatively unscathed after initial reports suggested he may have broken ribs. Nibali's teammate Michele Scarponi stated the crash was caused when "somebody got distracted".
The Astana team stated "Nibali confirms pain and soreness in his rib, it hurts when he laughs or breathes deeply" but confirmed he was otherwise fine and would start the final stage on Sunday. Nibali's teammates Mikel Landa and Fredrik Kessiakoff also crashed, with Landa requiring two new wheels and a 80km/hr motorpace back to the peloton, but all finished with nothing more than bruises and road rash.
AG2R La Mondiale's Davide Appollonio's start to the season, however, was marred in the crash by a broken bone. "Davide Appollonio suffers, according to preliminary examinations, a broken collarbone," read a statement from the team. A more extensive diagnosis will be made once he returns to Italy and the extent of his recovery time will then be determined by the team's medical staff.
Luca Paolini (Katusha) was the other WorldTour rider who was involved in the late-race crash and abandoned, but the Italian's DNF was not due to an injury. "Paolini was in the crash. He was injured (bruises) but could continue," the team told Cyclingnews via email. "However at 4k from the finish he had a mechanical problem (impossible to use his 39-tooth chainring) and the team had passed him already and the neutral car could not help him. That's the disadvantage to have just one team car in this stage race."
Two of Jamis-Hagens Berman's new hires for 2014, Eloy Teruel and Daniel Jaramillo, both abandoned due to the crash with Teruel sustaining a fracture of fifth metacarpal in his right hand. Teruel, who moved to the US-based Continental team from Movistar, had put in a solid performance in the stage 5 time trial, holding the hot seat form some time and eventually finishing 9th on the stage.