Crashes knock Chaves, Yates out of Giro dell'Emilia

UPDATED: Orica-Scott reported that Esteban Chaves broke his right shoulder blade in the Giro dell'Emilia crash on Saturday and will not defend his Il Lombardia title on October 7. Chaves was chasing solo leader Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) when he crashed heavily in a corner. Chaves abandoned the race and was taken to hospital for X-rays, which revealed the fracture.

"Esteban has a fracture of the right shoulder blade (distal portion)," said Orica-Scott race doctor Matteo Beltemacchi. "It's not necessary for an operation on this type of fracture, but he will require approximately 15 days' rest with his right arm immobilised before some therapy to re-strengthen the region. It will finish his 2017 early, but will not have an effect on his 2018 preparations."

Chaves greeted the news with his typically positive attitude.

"This is not how I wanted to finish my 2017 season, especially without the opportunity to return to Lombardia after such special memories last year, but this is the way it is and we now focus on the recovery and next season," Chaves said from hospital. "It's just a bone and there are much bigger challenges in life, we are lucky. We will return from this and I'm looking forward to a new year in 2018.

"I want to thank the team and the hospital staff for looking after me so well and to the fans for all of their kind messages and thoughts. It means a lot, thank you. I am good."

Chaves won Lombardia last year when he outsprinted Diego Rosa (Astana), Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) and Romain Bardet (AG2R).

Haig finishes ninth

Orica-Scott was in with numbers and a chance in the final 20km of the Giro dell'Emila on Saturday, but crashes from Adam Yates and the defending champion Esteban Chaves left Jack Haig to soldier on alone in the lead group and eventually finish ninth.

The team said later that Yates was OK and Chaves also appeared to have avoided serious injuries, although the Colombian went to hospital for X-rays.

Yates, Chaves and Haig all made the select lead group after the reduced peloton brought back the day's breakaway, but disaster struck when Yates slipped out in a sharp descent and was forced to abandon.

Chaves crashed out in the final 10km while chasing solo leader and eventual winner Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), leaving Tour of Poland winner Haig as the last-man standing in the lead group for the Australian team.

"The race was going really well for us up until the last couple of circuits," said sport director Dave McPartland. "We had good numbers within the favourites group, and it's unfortunate that we lost our two leaders, Adam and Esteban, to crashes. It is bad luck, but also a part of cycling."

The 223km race started in Bologna and finished in San Luca after several hilly closing circuits that suited the pure climbers. The breakaway, which had been allowed an ultimate gap of eight minutes, was finally brought back with two laps remaining as attacks in the field behind steadily whittled the field down to a handful of contenders.

"All of the guys had ridden a controlled race, and we knew that it would intensify once the break had been brought back going into the first ascents of the San Luca climb," McPartland said.

Chaves and Haig were in the group chasing Visconti with less than 10km remaining, but as Chaves tried to pick up the pace on the descent from the San Luca climb, he skidded out in a corner, crashing heavily and out of the race.

Haig continued as part of the chasing group, but Visconti held his advantage over the final climb to take the race win by 12 seconds over teammate Vincenzo Nibali and 15 seconds over Cannondale-Drapac's Rigoberto Uran. Haig came in 33 seconds back for ninth behind Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)

"Jack did a great job and showed that he is in strong form at the moment," McPartland said. "His focus did not waiver, and finishing in the top 10 against that field is a very good result for a young rider."

The team will have to wait on word about Chaves' condition as the final Monument of the year, Il Lombardia, approaches, and whether the Colombian will be in condition to defend his 2016 title. Nevertheless, McPartland was excited about Haig's condition as the season winds down.

"Often this race works very well as a gauge for a rider's form ahead of the last monument of the season, the Giro di Lombardia, and it's great to see that Jack is not only in great physical shape, but that he is also well motivated," McPartland said.

"At the end of a long season it can be quite difficult to assess a rider's form and motivation, but after strong performances at both the Vuelta a Espana and the World Championships, Jack showed today that he is not lacking in either department and he deserved his excellent result."

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