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Crashes and crosswinds wreak havoc at Brugge-De Panne

Brugge-De Panne
Crashes wreak havoc at Brugge-De Panne (Image credit: Getty Images)

Teams may still be fishing bikes out of the ditches and waterways surrounding De Panne after crosswinds and crashes wreaked havoc at Thursday's third round of the Women's WorldTour Classic Brugge-De Panne on Thursday.

Grace Brown took an impressive solo victory and while that was cause for much celebration, two of her Team BikeExchange teammates were tending to wounds sustained in the many crashes in the peloton between Brugge and the finishing circuits around De Panne.

Jessica Allen (Team BikeExchange) was involved in the first of some five or six falls throughout the women's 158.8km race between Brugge and De Panne. She went down mid-race along the railroad bed but immediately received help from her team support staff. The team later confirmed that Allen suffered a broken collarbone.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t all good news at #OxyCleanClassic today with Jess Allen crashing out, resulting in a broken collarbone. In typical Jess fashion she’s in good spirits and will have surgery tomorrow. Team doctors will keep control of her situation in the days after surgery to evaluate future steps," wrote the team on social media.

The field entered the local circuits in Veurne and then raced for another 17km before they passed through the finish line for the first time, signifying a full two laps to go (90km). The local circuits were about 45km long each and routed through De Moeren, the windiest section on the circuit, followed by Houtem, Bulskamp and Veurne.

A second crash happened with 40km to go that included Maria Van 'T Geloof (Drops-le Col Supported by Tempur) and Julia Soek (Team DSM), and several separations formed near the back of the field. Both riders got back up but finished the race nearly seven minutes down.

Strong crosswinds from the west off the North Sea swept through the field and caused echelons to form in the exposed area De Moeren where a third crash through a right-hand turn took down several riders including Marta Jaskulska (Liv Racing) and Swiss champion Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) with 32km to go. 

The pair were tangled up in a ditch on the left-hand side of the road, one of their bikes partially in the waterway. Jaskulska finished the race six minutes down, but Chabbey did not finish.

Chabbey's teammate Lisa Klein also crashed earlier in the race but the team later confirmed that both riders only sustained minor injuries.

"Both Lisa Klein and Elise Chabbey who came down in separate crashes today have minor injuries only," Canyon-SRAM stated.

While Brown had made it into the lead split of main sprint contenders on the final circuit, Team BikeExchange lost another rider, Australian Champion Sarah Roy, who also crashed into a roadside ditch. 

A spectator pulled her bike out from the long grass as Roy scrambled to get up and back to the road. She was seen pulling chunks of long grass off her handlebars. Although she did not finish the race, she was at the finish line to congratulate her teammate Brown on a gutsy solo victory in De Panne.

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.