Having lost Rafa Valls on the eve of the Vuelta a España due to illness, Lampre-Merida have now lost Przemyslaw Niemiec after the Polish rider was involved in the mass pile up with 30km of stage 2 to race. A stage winner at last year's Vuelta, helicopter shots of the crash site placed Niemiec laying motionless on his stomach while his teammates and other fallers started to pick themselves up. Niemiec was able to walk away from the crash but was forced to abandon with a head injury. The first time he hasn't finished a grand tour from ten starts.
Having been hit by a car while training 12 days ago, Niemiec's run of bad luck continued with the 35-year-old exiting the race via an ambulance for a hospital in Malaga for overnight observation before undergoing a CAT scan Monday morning as Lampre-Merida team doctor Michele De Grandi explained following the crash.
"A strong head injury, for which it was agreed with the heads of the hospital to have the rider under observation in the hospital for a CAT scan after 12 hours," De Grandi said in a team statement. Niemiec joined IAM Cycling's David Tanner and Matteo Pelucchi in abandoning the race to make it three DNF's on stage 2.
Niemiec's best result so far this season was ninth at Strade Bianche in March and 12th overall at Tirreno-Adriatico with 57th overall at the Tour de Pologne his last result pre-Vuelta. The Vuelta was 's second grand tour of 2015 having ridden the Giro d'Italia all but innocuously in May finishing 40th overall.
The first road stage of the Vuelta had started well for Lampre-Merida with Nelson Oliveira making his way into the breakaway although with the majority of the team caught up in the mass crash, Mattia Cattaneo finished the stage as the best placed rider on the day in 52nd place. The team is yet to announce it ambitions for the remainder of the race in Niemiec's absence.
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