Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank) will miss out on the chance to defend his Tour of Flanders title after it emerged that he sustained a fracture to his right hip when he crashed during the opening stage time trial at Paris-Nice on Sunday.
Nuyens attempted to start stage two, but was forced to yield to the pain before the race had left the neutralised zone. He visited a specialist in his native Belgium on Tuesday and was told that he will have to spend 14 days off the bike and will then undergo a further x-ray to determine if he can resume training.
“This is an enormous blow to me personally and to the team, and I'm of course very sad right now,” Nuyens said. “I really felt I was on schedule to peak again in the Tour of Flanders, and I was looking very much forward to defend my victory. But now I know this is not going to happen. Crashes do happen in cycling, that's just the way it is, and I have to accept that, but this crash couldn't come at a worse time.”
Nuyens’ absence from the cobbled classics is a further blow to Bjarne Riis’ team following Alberto Contador’s suspension for his positive test for clenbuterol, which was announced in February. Riis appeared before the UCI Licence Commission last week to make a case for Saxo Bank to retain its WorldTour licence even though the suspended Contador garnered over two-thirds of its WorldTour points last season.
Nuyens’ successful spring campaign accounted for a sizeable amount of the remainder of the Saxo Bank haul, as his canny win at the Tour of Flanders was preceded by a fine victory at Dwars Door Vlaanderen.
"We all feel very sorry for Nick today, as we all knew how much he was looking forward to coming back to the Tour of Flanders and defending last year's great win,” Riis said. “This is also very sad news for the whole team. We were really looking forward to supporting him in the coming weeks, and Nick showed great signs that his peak form was right in front of him.”