The Trek Factory Racing team lost two of their riders to fractured left hands in early season races: Matthew Busche fractured his left scaphoid bone in a crash at the Mallorca Challenge on January 31, and Laurent Didier broke his fourth metacarpal in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race the next day.
Both riders had surgery in Basel, Switzerland to correct the fractures, and while Didier's injury allows him to continue training, Busche's is more complicated.
The scaphoid, a small bone in the wrist that has a limited blood supply, is often difficult to heal. Busche's fracture required a special screw and bone transplant, and he will be in a cast for six weeks.
The team said that their doctors "will attempt to make a special carbon cast after four weeks to accelerate his return to training, with the hope he can gain one or two weeks' time," according to Trek's web site.
Busche is recovering at his home in Spain.
Bakelants opens in Almeria
Jan Bakelants will make his debut with the AG2R La Mondiale team in the Clasica Almeria on Saturday, and will follow with the Ruta del Sol next week.
The Belgian will be joining Tour de France runner-up Jean-Christophe Peraud, Tour stage winner Blel Kadri, fellow Belgian Johan Van Summeren, Romain Bardet, Christophe Riblon and Lloyd Mondory in the Spanish race.
"For this first race, it's hard to know how my form is," Bakelants said. "Despite some health problems, I was able to train and I didn't missed any training camps. I'm really optimistic and looking forward to start the season.
"We have a great team, strong and very consistent," Bakelants said of his new squad. "I am an aggressive rider, as are many riders in the team. Vincent Lavenu hired me for that. I will improve my shape to be competitive during the Classics races."
The same team will take part in the Ruta del Sol, with the exception of Sébastien Minard stepping in for Lloyd Mondory.
Grmay, Kudus win African time trial titles
Tsgabu Grmay became the first Ethiopian in history to win an African Continental Road Championship when he won the elite men's individual time trial in South Africa today. His former teammate Merhawi Kudus (Eritrea) won the U23 title.
"I am so happy to be the first person from Ethiopia to win an elite gold," Grmay said. "It was a great race for me today and everything went perfectly and my preparation coming into the race had been good so I was confident that I could do well."
Grmay, who swapped his MTN-Qhubeka colours for the fuchsia and blue of Lampre-Merida this year, topped Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea) with Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg (South Africa) in third.
"I came into the race knowing that I had a chance of winning it if I rode well and everything went smoothly," Grmay said. "It all went to plan and it is great for the whole team who have come out here as well as the federation who have been working really hard for us riders recently and trying to grow the sport back home and so I am happy to give back with this win."
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