De Panne crash series continued

Pascal Hungerbühler (Team Volksbank) was one of riders to go down

Pascal Hungerbühler (Team Volksbank) was one of riders to go down (Image credit: AFP)

The wave of injuries continues, and on Wednesday it hit the Austrian Professional Continental teams, with Team Volksbank losing two in the Driedaagse De Panne and Team Elk Haus losing a rider to a non-cycling accident. One of these crashes in Belgium also took out Steven Cozza of Slipstream.

Writing on the team's website, the mustachioed Cozza said, "After about 180 km of easy racing, I went to move up the right side when I got totally tackled by a German rider. Later on, I heard he had his head down and just smashed me from behind. When I was on the ground in pain, all I wanted to do was get up and beat the crap out of him. If it wasn't for him crying in pain also, I probably would have. Later, at the hospital, I learned he had only sprained his pinky. Man, what a wimp!"

The American was diagnosed with a broken collarbone, "the exact same place and break that I got in November."

That German rider was Volksbank's Olaf Pollack, who last week won a silver medal in the Madison for Germany at the Track World Championships in Manchester. X-rays showed that his left hand was bruised and not broken. "Fortunately I was planning to have a two-week training pause anyway," the 33 year-old said.

Earlier in the race, his team-mate Pascal Hungerbühler had already made the trip to the hospital. "After I crashed and lay in a bush, another rider rolled over my leg," the 31 year-old Swiss rider said. He was diagnosed with a broken foot bone, received a plaster cast and flew home the same evening. He will be operated on Thursday. "A plate will speed up the healing process, but a rest of several weeks is unavoidable," said team manager Thomas Kofler. "We don't want to take any risks."

Meanwhile, Elk Haus' Thomas Rohregger is out of action because of a household accident. "I fell on the stairs and landed on my jaw. Fortunately it was okay, but I broke a bone in my foot." Unlike Hungerbühler, he was unwilling to let the doctor give him a plaster cast, "which would have meant a four-week pause. I said no right away. After all, I want to be fit again to ride the Giro del Trentino the end of April." He had the foot tightly wrapped and started training again within days.

If that weren't enough, Rohregger came down with a case of bronchitis. "It can't get any worse," the 25 year-old said. "I hope that I'll be fit again quickly so that I can concentrate on my preparations. My season goals of the Österreich Tour, the Deutschland Tour and the Olympics, are not at all in danger."

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