Fifteen stitches for Heras

Piil out and in hospital; Scheunemann breaks finger; X-rays for Osa

One of crash victims on Stage 12 of the Vuelta was none other than three-time winner and the second-placed rider on the overall classification, Roberto Heras (Liberty-Würth). Jakob Piil (Team CSC), Niels Scheuneman (Rabobank), and Unai Osa (Illes Balears) were some of the other riders hurt from the accident, which saw the Dane leave the scene via ambulance.

Heras sustained two wounds, both around his left leg. Race doctors provided him with medical assistance during the stage, but they had to wait until the end before treating him properly. The Spaniard received ten stitches on the largest wound at the top of his kneecap and five at the site of the second wound, further down his leg. This evening, team doctors applied anti-inflammatory cream and have given him analgesics, and will further assess the situation in the morning.

"The fall happened in the first ten riders in the pack," recalled Heras. "I believe someone got tangled up right in front of me, but I am not sure; I fell down on top of them and couldn't do anything to avoid it. At first, I had a lot of pain and could not pedal, but then doctors have put three bandages on the wound to stop the bleeding and I could continue. It was more difficult at first because we were on a climb, but then I did the final kilometres without too many problems.

"I have a big wound, but I am well and now it is necessary to wait and see how I feel tomorrow. I do not know how these cuts will affect me. I am very motivated and if this does not prevent me from riding tomorrow, I'll go forward. This has only been a small problem in our plans, but also it is necessary to know these things [happen] in a race," Heras added.

Meanwhile, Osa asked for medical help because shortly after, he suffered another crash and hurt his rib. He was due to undergo X-rays after the stage to ascertain if any of his ribs are broken. On the other hand, Piil was definitely wounded after the collision; the CSC rider suffered loss of consciousness and multiple knocks from other riders and was driven to hospital immediately following the accident, where further medical tests will be performed.

"Jakob has got serious concussion and quite a few superficial wounds," said team doctor Joost de Maeseneer on "This again shows just how important it is that the riders wear a helmet. At the moment there's no sign of any broken bones, but as customary after a bad concussion Jakob is being kept under observation for 24 hours."

Rabobank's Niels Scheuneman was another victim of the crash, and will not be starting Stage 13 on Friday. Scheuneman broke a bone in his left hand, and will be of no further assistance to his team captain Denis Menchov. The Russian is strong individually, but his team is down to just six riders now, and of those, Jukka Vastaranta is not feeling good.

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