Ian Stannard (Team Sky) will not ride the Tour de France, according to the team. The spinal injury he received in March has proved to be worse than previously thought, meaning that the former British champion will not be able to return to riding in time for the Tour de France.
Stannard was obviously disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to return to the race that he debuted at in 2013. “It was really hard to take, especially when it became clear that I wouldn’t be riding the Tour de France. At the same time, it was nice to get a definitive call - a clear cut decision. There was no uncertainty about what I should and shouldn’t be doing,” he told Teamsky.com.
He suffered a fractured vertebra in Gent-Wevelgem at the end of March, when he crashed into a ditch with around 60 kilometres remaining of the race. He had been expected to lead the team at Paris-Roubaix a couple of weeks later, but that responsibility was later handed to Edvald Boasson Hagen. Sky suffered a number of injuries during the classics, with Chris Sutton also being sent home after Gent-Wevelgem.
Although the vertebra was badly damaged, Stannard admitted that it could have been worse. “I'd been really lucky not to suffer any permanent damage,” Stannard said. No surgery was required, and after the first week, he has had no pain for discomfort. “It was sore for the first week or so after the crash, but since then I’ve felt absolutely nothing. There’s been no pain or restricted movement whatsoever. If I’d had pain, it might’ve actually meant it was less frustrating, but in my mind I feel fine.”
Stannard will have another X-ray near the end of June, three months after he sustained the injury, and until then, he won't be back on his bike. That eliminates any possibility of riding the Tour, which starts on July 5. Until Stannard gets the ok from the doctors, he will stay off his bike, which is not easy. “It's the longest stretch I've had off my bike in years and years, as far back as I can remember actually.”
“I’ve been trying to do as little as possible but it’s been really hard. When you’re busy, you daydream about how nice it will be to have time off, but once that happens you soon get bored after a few days and it becomes really frustrating. I can’t fly in my current condition so me and my girlfriend hired a motor home and took a road trip around Scotland last week. That was really fun and it definitely helped take my mind off things.”
Stannard’s absence from the Tour de France will be a major blow to the Sky team, who were relying on his big engine to protect Chris Froome as he attempts to retain his Tour de France title.