By Shane Stokes in Doha, Qatar
Tearing up the right hand side of the Quick Step lead-out train with about 500 metres to go, Magnus Backstedt was looking likely to play a big part in the final outcome of the fifth stage of the Tour of Qatar. That proved to be the case, but not in the way he intended.
Bad luck ensured that rather than helping team-mate Chris Sutton fight it out for the victory, the giant Swede instead found himself sprawled on the tarmac, his right collarbone snapped. He had collided with Tom Boonen's Quick Step team-mate Wouter Weylandt when the latter dropped off the front, his lead-out done.
Backstedt's front wheel clipped the back wheel of the Belgian, and there was no way out.
"It is a 50-50 situation," he said, when asked how it happened. "I just dipped my head down quickly to check I still had Julian Dean on my wheel, and as I looked up he [Weylandt] had just swung over and I had nowhere to go. I had no time to react, I just went over the bars. That was it.
"I am not blaming him," he clarified. "He possibly swung over a little bit too far, but then again I was too close to them. I had also dropped my head down to make sure I had the guys on my wheel. It happened just as I was about to launch it.
"Up until that point things looked fantastic. We had 450 metres to go, I hadn't fully opened up the gas and we still had Julian to go before Chris. It was as good as they come. It is just a shame that we couldn't pull it off. It happens, it happens."
Backstedt stood out in the restaurant after the stage. It wasn't his bulk or his bright orange sweatshirt, but rather the large sling holding his right arm to his chest. Many riders and team managers approached him to commiserate on his misfortune, including Tom Boonen, but he was optimistic that he would be back in action soon and that his Paris-Roubaix hopes were not dead.
"I will hopefully fly back to London tonight, if there is place on the flight. Tomorrow at 1 o'clock I will see my surgeon. He will take some x-rays and we will take it from there. Hopefully he will be doing surgery on me straight away if that is the case, I will be back on the bike within a few days.
"I will do that as quick as I possibly can because the more blood flow you get going through your body, the quicker it heals. So by just sitting on a turbo trainer and getting your heart-rate up, it will speed the healing. I would say give me ten days tops and I will be outdoors on the bike again."
Backstedt won Paris-Roubaix in 2004 but since then hasn't had the best of luck due to illness and injury. Several journalists at the Tour of Qatar speculated after the race that 'Maggie' would probably miss the Hell of the North this year, but he felt otherwise. "Roubaix is still looking okay," he asserted. "I would ride with a collarbone like this if I had to! I think it will be fine.
"As regards my exact schedule from here, I have to see what happens with this, how long I have to stay away of racing and then take it from there."
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