Tour de Suisse winner Miguel Angel Lopez faces a winter of recovery and physiotherapy after fracturing his left tibia close to his knee while training at home, according to reports in Colombian media.
The talented 22-year-old Astana rider crashed after a car overtook the group of riders he was training with. He reportedly hit his tibia on the roadside kerb. Fortunately, the fracture was not exposed or caused major muscle damage, meaning Lopes shouldn't not require surgery. However, he faces six weeks in a special leg immobiliser and will be unable to put weight on his leg.
Although he may eventually be given permission to train indoors, orthopaedic specialists have predicted a full recovery will take between 16 and 20 weeks, meaning Lopez will have a delayed start to his 2017 season, where he was expected to share team leadership at the Tour de France with Jakob Fuglsang.
According to his Astana team, Lopez is likely to return to racing at the Tour of Turkey in late April.
Lopez won the 2014 Tour de l'Avenir but was one of the revelations of the 2016 season thanks to his overall victory at the Tour de Suisse in June. He finished second to Tejay van Garderen on the mountain finish to Solden and then secured overall victory with second place in the final time trial stage to Davos.
He made his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana but crashed hard on stage 3, losing three teeth and hurting his hip. He eventually quit the Vuelta on stage 6 after crashing again but recovered quickly and won the end of season Milan-Turin race in Italy, defeating Canada's Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac) on the climb to the finish.