Valverde lucky

Spanish overall victory hopeful Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) got a good scare in...

Spanish overall victory hopeful Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) got a good scare in yesterday's stage five to Chateauroux. The team captain hit the deck after 87 kilometres raced into the stage. The tarmac scraped off some skin on his right shoulder, upper leg and knee, but did not do any more damage that could have proved fatal for his Tour victory plans.

Valverde was helped by his team-mates to ride back into the bunch, but soon went to see the race doctor's car. Dr Gérard Porte treated his wounds superficially and the Caisse d'Epargne leader was able to continue the race.

"He was a bit shaken, but he is fine now," Eusebio Unzué, Valverde's directeur sportif at Caisse d'Epargne, said to AP. "Nothing serious. He will see the team doctor to have some checks."

Things could have been much worse - the Spaniard already crashed out of the Tour de France in 2006. "He fell at 55 km/h," Unzué said. "When you hit the gravel at that speed it is tough. He did not see (the debris), and was surprised."

The medical communiqué of the Tour stated that Valverde had "wounds and bruises" on the right side of his body. John Gadret of AG2R La Mondiale was also involved in the crash. The French climber fell on his left side and sustained similar injuries than Valverde.

But the team was reassured even during the stage. "I don't think there is any problem," said Unzué to Spanish Marca. "He came to the team car after 50 kilometres to say that he felt no pain. If there was anything bad, there would be other symptoms of pain or inflammation."

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