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Steegmans (RadioShack) would end the day in hospital
Belgian ruled out of Spring Classics
RadioShack's Gert Steegmans, who suffered a concussion two weeks ago in Portugal's Volta ao Algarve, had more bad luck when he suffered a broken collarbone in a crash during the Paris-Nice prologue on Sunday.
It is believed that today's strong winds played a part in the crash, which occurred halfway through his race as Steegmans was riding at 75kph on a downhill section of the course. Steegmans is scheduled to have surgery at a hospital in Belgium on Monday.
RadioShack directeur sportif, Dirk Demol, said, "Gert crashed on the descent of the first of two climbs, just on the fastest part where everyone was riding more than 70kph. There was an opening of maybe 20 meters between a house and a hedge. I saw the wind coming. Leaves and tree branches flew in the air and a second later Gert was lifted in the air too. He was blown away from the road and tumbled over and over many times. It was a terrible crash.
"I've never seen such a thing in my life. It took 12 minutes for the ambulance to arrive while we waited and could do nothing. Gert was screaming all the time. He seemed to have broken more than one thing. This is very bad news for him. He would have been our leader in the Classics."
On the bright side, RadioShack had two strong performances today from Americans Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner, who finished third and sixteenth respectively. For a while, Horner was in seventh place overall.
"It was a decent run for me today on this Classics-like course," he said.
Despite the loss of Steegmans, who won two stages of Paris-Nice in 2008, the team will work in support of Leipheimer.