By Gerard Cromwell
Ireland's Nicolas Roche's first ProTour race of 2007 came to an abrupt halt when he crashed out of Tirreno Adriatico on yesterday's opening stage. With 50 kms remaining and a group of four up the road, there was a sudden stall in the bunch which resulted in a huge pile-up in the main peloton. The young Irishman was sandwiched between two riders and surrounded by at least a dozen others, including last year's winner Thomas Dekker (Rabobank).
"There was just a big smash and I ended up sandwiched between two riders, with one underneath me and another guy on top of me and bits of bikes in between," said Roche afterwards. "I banged my knee pretty badly and also had to get stitches in my shin, so that was the end of the road for me, unfortunately. I'm pretty disappointed, I was very motivated to do well and excited to be riding with some of the big names, but at least I'm okay, it's not too bad."
Murphy & Gunn / Newlyn Group / M. Donnelly's Stephen Gallagher will be out of action for at least a fortnight having crashed out of the Grand Prix Lillers in France earlier this month. The Irishman may now miss some of his main objectives, the hillier one-day races in April. "It was a silly crash," Gallagher said today. "Someone in front braked hard when there was no need to and there was a switch in the bunch. His back wheel went up in the air and I was directly behind him. I went head first over the handlebars and broke my left wrist / arm."
Gallagher is still hoping to be fully fit for his main objective, the FBD Insurance Ras in May. " I hope to be on the start line for Brandbitse de Pijl in Belgium at start of April. My main objectives were the hilly one days in April, along with the Tour Majorca and the Ras. I still hope to be competitive by the Tour of Majorca in mid-April but I may not be at full fitness for the one days at the beginning of the month."