For Lotto Belisol the worst crash of the day for the team at the Tour of Flanders was that of Jürgen Roelandts who incurred several bruises and abrasions which forced him to quit. There was a shinning light however in the performance of a débutante at De Ronde, Stig Broeckx, as he made his way into part of the long breakaway to ride out in front for around 170km.
Having stood on the podium last year with Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan, Roelandts was looking to once again finish in the top three and was positioning himself in the front rows of the peloton, evident as the race hit the Oude Kwaremont. However, just over halfway into the race and it was day over for the Belgian.
"Before the crash it all went perfectly. I felt very good. Suddenly a rider braked in front of me and a bike blocked my way, I was the only one who fell. It was immediately clear that the race was over. My expectations of a good result were gone," Roelandts said.
An examination in hospital showed no fractures although Roelandts now has his fair share of bruises and abrasions over his entire body.
Roelandts fell on a section of concrete between two patches of grass to injure both arms, elbows, pelvis and left knee.
Roelandts received three stitches at the inside of the left elbow and three stitches left near his pelvis while his right forearm, thumb and hand are in plaster because of a severe bruise, among others, on his scaphoid.
As a result, Roelandts is very unlikely to take his place on the start line at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday to the chagrin of team manager Marc Sargeant.
"When will the bad luck be over? Last week André Greipel crashed in Ghent-Wevelgem and now Jürgen Roelandts. Tony Gallopin crashed twice and also Jens Debusschere stood at the side of the road. They both felt good as well. We have to see with which riders we will ride Paris-Roubaix. We have to recover mentally from this new set back."
For Broeckx it was a "dream" day on the cobbles. "This was the first time in my life I rode that many kilometers in one day. During the recon on Thursday I rode up some hills for the first time, like the Koppenberg. It was great to experience my first Ronde like this, it was like a dream," he said.
"When I heard I would ride my first Tour of Flanders I was very satisfied. I'm very happy with this performance. Today I showed I'm growing towards the level of someone like Taylor Phinney, with whom I raced in the youth categories. I hope to make progression each year [...] But I did surprise myself today. The past years I was already strong in this kind of races, but now I've shown with the pros that the Flemish spring races suit me."
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