Injury-hit AG2R look to Naesen to lighten mood at Classics

An unusually unlucky period of crashes that has decimated the AG2R La Mondiale team elicited a medical report from the team doctor summarising the team's injuries on Monday. Of most concern was Tour de France contender Romain Bardet's crash at the Volta a Catalunya on Sunday, while, on the bright side, Oliver Naesen continues to perform well for the team at the spring Classics.

Bardet was one of the victims of a 70kph downhill crash on the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya on Sunday, and is still waiting to find out whether he may have fractured any ribs, although that likelihood appears to have decreased in the past 24 hours.

"Romain is suffering from chest contusions and many areas of road rash," the team's medical director, Doctor Eric Bouvat, said on Monday.

"He will likely perform an exam on the bike within the next 72 hours, and also probably undergo a CT scan of his chest to dispel any suspicions of a rib fracture. The rest of his programme will be communicated at a later date."

Bardet's teammate Tony Gallopin also fell in the same crash, injuring his shoulder, but received some good news on Monday – although he will miss this coming weekend's Tour of Flanders.

"Tony underwent a left-shoulder x-ray on Monday morning that did not detect a fracture," reported Bouvat. "He'll be resting for four days, and won't participate in the Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday or Flanders on Sunday."

Further updates from Bouvat included another Catalunya victim, Axel Domont, who crashed on Friday's fifth stage, fracturing both his hip and collarbone.

"He'll be immobilised for three weeks, and should be able to resume training on the road in 10 weeks," said Bouvat.

A crash at Tirreno-Adriatico for Alexis Vuillermoz, where he injured his hamstring, has continued to keep him from training, while there's better news on Swiss rider Mathias Frank, who's on the road to recovery after hitting his head in a crash on the penultimate stage of Paris-Nice.

Bouvat reported that Frank had resumed training three days ago and was set to return to racing at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco on April 8.

Meanwhile, last year's best young rider at the Tour de France, Pierre Latour, fractured both his wrists in a training crash in late February, but has now been able to resume riding on his home trainer.

"An examination on April 15 will determine when he will be able to resume training on the road," said Bouvat.

"The AG2R La Mondiale team has certainly not been spared by crashes and health problems, and we hope this unfortunate time will come to an end," he added.

"It's always difficult for a manager to see his riders physically injured," said AG2R general manager Vincent Lavenu on the team's website. "We know they all have great will and determination, and we hope to see them again soon on the bike.

"Fortunately, the group of Classics riders with Oliver Naesen has brought us great satisfaction, and we hope to again experience some more beautiful emotions in the coming weeks."

Naesen's run of good results continued at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, where the Belgian took third place behind winner Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), having taken eighth place at the E3 BinckBank Classic the previous week.

The 28-year-old also finished second at Milan-San Remo to Deceuninck-QuickStep's Julian Alaphilippe on March 23, and Naesen now heads to the Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday and the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, hoping to continue his run of good results.

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