Team HTC-Columbia was hit by a number of crashes on stage 1 of the Tour de France on Sunday, with Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers and Adam Hansen all hitting the deck. Hansen came off worst, finishing the stage but later being taken to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone.
Mark Renshaw rescued some success for the team, and finished second on the stage behind winner Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini).
"It was a big loss for us today," said Renshaw. "Cavendish wanted the points for the green jersey and it was a bit of a roller coaster. I'm really happy to get second and come so close to winning a stage in the Tour but it's difficult for us with Cavendish not getting any points. It's not a good day in the end.
"With one kilometre and a half to go the whole race was turned upside down. Once I heard the crash we had to totally rearrange. I moved into the sprinter role and at that stage usually I'm used to going with 500 meters to go and I had to wait. Unfortunately the training I've done isn't going to let me get over Petacchi."
The team's GC contender Michael Rogers also came down in a crash near the finish, but despite a grazed elbow managed to pick himself up. Crashing in the final kilometre meant he lost no time and so still sits in 14th place overall.
"I got out of the crash but someone hit me from behind. Fortunately, I'm not really injured at all. At the Tour de France some people think they can sprint but they can't!"
However, the biggest disappointment could be Hansen. The 29-year-old Australian, one of the most respected domestiques in the peloton, missed last year's Tour due to a broken collarbone. Earlier in today's stage he crashed and immediately began holding the same left collarbone, which already has nine screws in it.
Hansen managed to get back on his bike and even began working for Cavendish later in the stage. At the finish he was quickly rushed to hospital but Hansen confirmed to Cyclingnews that he thought the collarbone had indeed broken again.
"It's the Tour so you've got to take every chance. The team wanted me to ride to the finish and I was okay to do some work on the front and be productive."
Team boss Bob Stapleton said that his riders' health was paramount to the team and that Hansen would be given the best possible care.
"He rode to the finish but I don't know exactly how he is. We had 11 collarbone breaks last year so we're up to speed on what's possible. It's very individual and we'll go from there.
"Every time someone's on the ground we take it dead serious and their careers are important to us too."