Adam Hansen will face an anxious wait to see whether he can start the second stage of the Three Days of De Panne on Wednesday after injuring his wrist in an awkward crash on the race's opening stage.
The Australian HTC-Columbia rider tangled with another rider moments after bridging across to a strong late-race escape group. The force of the contact was enough to knock Hansen's front wheel out and send him into a roadside banking. He was able to complete the stage, but was uncertain about the condition of his injured right wrist.
"My wrist is kinda sore, I think I might have broken it, I don't know yet," Hansen told Cyclingnews immediately after he crossed the finish line in Oudenaarde. "I'll have to get it checked out, I'm having trouble holding the bars at the moment.”
"I think because I've got all the adrenaline pumping I'm coping with it, but it's still pretty bad and I think once I settle down that's when I'll find out if there are any real problems."
HTC-Columbia team director Allan Peiper told Cyclingnews that Hansen will be examined by team medical staff before a decision is made on his continued participation in the race.
"It depends what the doctor says, whether it's a little bit of swelling or something [more]," said Peiper. "We'd better get it X-rayed tonight. It's a bit of a damper for Adam, because he was really good.”
The incident was a low-point in an otherwise strong performance from Hansen, who had spent 60 kilometres as part of a four-man break during the first part of the stage. When the move was caught, the Australian was forced to chase back to the main group after a mid-race pile-up blocked the road.
"I was in the first break at the start and I jumped across to the main group because I was stuck behind the crash," Hansen explained. "Then from the main group I caught the front group, but I was only there for about 20 seconds when a rider cut me off and put his rear derailleur in my front wheel and broke it, then I hit the wall. That was it, it was over after that."
Peiper pleased with HTC-Columbia performance
Despite the potential set-back of Hansen's injury and the lack of a result, Peiper was full of praise for his team's overall performance. "It was a pretty good race from the team today. They were in all the moves right from the start," he said. "Hansen was there in a group of four and the bunch chased them for 60 kilometres at 30 seconds without letting them go. It was pretty impressive because the bunch was in pieces by the time they reached the finish line for the first time."
With two loops of a hilly circuit around Oudenaarde, the race broke up even further on the final approach into the finish, where Bbox Bouygues Telecom's Steve Chainel won the sprint. Aleksejs Saramotins was the best placed HTC-Columbia rider in 18th place, 1:05 behind the stage winner. Nevertheless, Peiper was satisfied with the team's presence.
"Lars Bak rode off the front with a group of around 15, then Jan Ghyselinck rode across so we had three in the front group. And right at the end Aleksejs Saramotins had also gone away in a group, he rode really, really well," Peiper said.
"The thing is, a lot of these guys spend most of the year riding for other people - whether it's Cavendish, Greipel or Bernhard Eisel – and at a race like this they've got their own chances so they go for it. I'm really quite proud of the way the boys rode today, it was really good teamwork."