Lotto Soudal sprinter Caleb Ewan has been forced to abandon the Tour de France following a crash during the stage 3 final sprint on Monday. The team confirmed that X-rays revealed a displaced complex fracture of the right collarbone, and that he will undergo surgery in Monaco on Wednesday.
The Australian touched wheels with stage winner Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix), causing both him and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) to crash inside the final 150 metres in Pontivy.
"We have an unfortunate update about Caleb Ewan. Following his crash, Caleb is forced to leave the race due to a right collarbone fracture. More news to follow," Lotto Soudal confirmed through it's official Twitter account.
Ewan's crash happened during the last few seconds of the final sprint in Pontivy. Alpecin-Fenix's Mathieu van der Poel had delivered a perfect leadout for his teammate Merlier, who swung off to grab the wheel of another teammate, Jasper Philipsen, who took up the reins inside the final 700 metres.
Ewan was positioned on Merlier's wheel against the barriers on the right side of the road, with Sagan alongside his left. Ewan touched Merlier's wheel, which caused him and Sagan to crash at high speed in the final 150 metres.
The two sprinters hit the tarmac hard and slide across the road, bikes intertwined and glasses flying up the road. Sagan gently got up and crossed the line while Ewan received medical treatment on the road.
Ewan was transported to hospital and his team later confirmed that he suffered a right broken collarbone.
“I don’t remember too much of the crash as it all happened in an instant," Ewan said. “I remember that I wanted to start my sprint quite early in the chicane. We began sprinting on the left and when I started my sprint, I saw that the guys on the front were closing to the right so I had to stop my effort and then hope for it to open up again. When all of this happened, I came next to Peter Sagan and we were quite close on the wheel. And when Merlier went against the right, I touched the wheel… Pretty soon, I realized my Tour de France was over. Usually when you crash, you don’t feel too much pain because of the adrenaline rush. But straightaway, I was in a lot of pain and as the medical staff were pressing on my collarbone, I felt it clicking so I immediately knew something wasn’t right.”
It was the last of multiple crashes during the hectic 182.9km from Lorient to Pontivy, with the first crash happening just 37km into the race. In that crash, Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma) was forced to abandon while Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) suffered from a separated shoulder, although he got back up and finished the stage.
The second crash took place closer to the finish, inside the last 10km, that involved last year's runner-up Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma). He crashed after a touch of wheels but his team responded quickly with four rider helping him get back in the field, but he ended up crossing the line 1:21 down.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) was involved in the third crash on a downhill left-hand corner with 3.9km to go. He eventually cross the line 26 seconds down.
As a result of the crashes, only Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) avoided losing time among the GC contenders, with Pogačar and Thomas losing 26 seconds and Roglič losing 1:21.
Despite his disappointment at having to abandon the race due to his injuries, Ewan said he was looking a head towards the next goals, such as the Vuelta a España.
“It’s my first time I’ve broken a bone," Ewan said. "They told me it is broken in four spots and I need to have surgery to put it back into place. Out of all the bones you can break, I think a collarbone fracture is maybe the easiest to recover from. Unfortunately, this is a part of cycling. I need to let it heal and make plans for the future. There should be plenty of time to let it heal towards La Vuelta, so hopefully this can still be a goal of mine this year.”
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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.
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