Defending champion Christian Vande Velde pulled of the Tour of Missouri after a breaking his hand during a crash that took place during the opening stage field sprint in St. Louis yesterday.
"However painful it was to crash yesterday, riding back to the bus by myself was even more painful," said Vande Velde. "The Tour of Missouri means a lot to me, my team and my sponsors. I would have loved to have been able to finish it."
Vande Velde crashed into the back of a previous accident with 500-metres to go and hit a fire hydrant at the side of the road. Following the crash he was taken to the hospital in St. Louis where doctors confirmed he had a hairline fracture to his second metacarpal on his right hand.
He attempted to start stage two's 180-kilometre road race in St. Genevieve. However, the pain of braking and shifting along with the road vibrations was too much to bare and he was force to withdraw from the race during the neutral start.
This crash was his third race-ending accident this season. His first and most severe accident happened when he crashed during stage three of the Giro d'Italia in May where doctors confirmed he had fractured five vertebrae, his pelvis and one rib. He recovered well enough to place eighth overall in the Tour de France only to go down again at the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, Germany on August 15, injuring his hip.
After some much needed healing time at his home in Illinois, Vande Velde felt recovered enough to defend his title at the Tour of Missouri this week. "Christian's had a hard year, but as he's shown over and over he's an incredibly tough athlete," said team owner Jonathan Vaughters after the accident yesterday. "He's determined to start tomorrow and that says a lot about his character."
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