The high-speed crashes at Tour of Qatar have taken another victim with Koen de Kort falling in the final of Stage 4, suffering a broken collarbone. The Argos-Shimano rider will return to the Netherlands for further treatment and surgery in the coming days with his spring classics ambitions seemingly doubtful. The opening Belgian semi-classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad comes in just over two weeks time where de Kort would have likely begun his spring campaign.
De Kort was able to finish the finish the stage as the last rider to cross the line more than five minutes behind the day's winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and while he believed to have only take superficial damage, medical examination revealed the full extent of the injury.
"Koen broke his right collarbone," said Argos-Shimano physician Edwin Achterberg on the team site. "He underwent an X-ray at the hospital, and now we’ll try to get him back to the Netherlands for an operation as soon as possible."
"I knew the final kilometers of today’s stage were pretty tricky. We were in the front to prepare the sprint for John Degenkolb. A few riders, including me, went down 900 meters from the finish, and I immediately felt that there was something wrong with my right shoulder," said Koen de Kort. "Unfortunately, this is part of cycling. I will now fully focus on my recovery in order to get back in the saddle as soon as possible."
Degenkolb could only manage 15th on the stage and was clearly out of contention for the win while the fallen de Kort remained relatively upbeat on his season's set-back.
"Thanks for the tweets everyone. Crashed in the last km today and broke my collarbone. Guess I'm a real cyclist now," said De Kort on Twitter.
"Had xrays and CT scan done in a great sports hospital in Doha. Will have operation done in The Netherlands, update soon," he tweeted.
De Kort’s Qatar incident puts a dampener on the early part of the year which appeared to be steadily building towards the classics and the possibility of repeating his podium place at Dwars door Vlaanderen achieved in 2012.
It’s another blow for de Kort who has a cloud hanging over his classics program for the second consecutive year. De Kort was unable to ride a full classics campaign last year after a heavy fall at E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke left him ‘mumified’ - just days after his third-place in the semi-classic Dwars door Vlaanderen.
More information on de Kort’s condition will be released as it comes to light.