By Susan Westemeyer
The name of the race is the Ruta del Sol, but this year it is more rainy than sunny. It was a tough day Monday at the Spanish race, also called the Vuelta a Andalucia. 12 riders dropped out during the stage, including five of seven riders from the Russian Continental team Katyusha.
Gert Steegmans of Team Quick-Step fell during a descent, right after catching up with the big group. His front wheel slipped away on the wet and slippery pavement. "It was raining terribly," team doctor Toon Cruyt told the Belgian news site Sporza.be. The 27 year-old landed on his chin, "with a large gaping wound on his jaw", which required seven stitches. He also complained of giddiness. "He had a lot of pain in his head and really couldn't continue."
"I have prescribed him five days worth of antibiotics," Cruyt continued. "He must rest a day or two, that should be enough." The rider will remain in Spain for 24 hours for observation. There should be no major lasting effects, though. "Perhaps a small scar on his chin, but nothing else."
Quick-Step also lost Addy Engels, who was suffering from back and left knee pains after a crash in the first stage.
Team Rabobank was also unlucky, losing two riders, sprinter Graeme Brown and Sébastian Langeveld. Brown was involved in a crash and complained of hip pains. "Brown had a lot of trouble with his hip, which meant that he would have to get off his bike. I don't think it's really serious," team manager Adri van Houwelingen said on the team's website, rabobank.nl. "The injury of Langeveld seems worse. He is being examined by the team's doctor, so I can't make hasty assumptions. But the problems in his knee, which seemed to have gone away last week, unfortunately came back today."