Maaskant fractures seven ribs in Paris-Nice crash

19 riders retired from Paris-Nice during Saturday’s stage as the wet and twisting roads of the south of France sparked some high-speed crashes and made for a tough day in the saddle.

Both Heinrich Haussler and Martijn Maaskant crashed, making it an especially tough day for the Garmin-Cervelo team.

Haussler went down several times, including once into a wall, but managed to finish the stage and keep the green points jersey. He won the first sprint on stage seven, extending his lead, and now has a 20-point advantage on nearest rival Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) and so should secure victory in the special classification during today’s final stage.

Maaskant was not so lucky. He crashed hard on the descent of the Cote de Gourdon, 60km from the finish, and is reported to have fractured seven ribs. It was rumoured he was also diagnosed with a collapsed lung when taken to hospital but team manager Jonathan Vaughters said this was inaccurate in a twitter message.

However Vaughters confirmed that the fractured ribs would mean Maaskant would not recover in time to ride the cobbled classics.

Maaskant joined Vaughters team in 2008 and finished fourth in Paris-Roubaix and was fourth in the 2009 Tour of Flanders.

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