Stannard out with fractured vertebrae after Gent-Wevelgem

Team Sky will be down two men for the coming races after crashes felled both Ian Stannard and Christopher Sutton in Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday. Stannard is the worst off of the pair: team doctor Phil Riley confirmed this afternoon that Stannard has a fracture to one of the vertebrae in his back.

"Ian has a fracture in one of his vertebrae as a result of his fall," Riley said at "The fracture is stable and he will undergo a review with a UK-based neurosurgeon this week, as well as having an MR scan. That should allow us to find out more information following his CT scan."

Stannard, the winner of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, was one of the team's leaders for the Classics, and was disappointed to be sidelined for the Tour of Flanders on Sunday and next week's Paris-Roubaix.

"I won't know how long I'm out for until we speak to the specialist, but it's not going to be in time for the Flanders or Roubaix," Stannard said. "You can't rush and injury like this and I've just got to rest up now. Once I've spoken to the specialist I'll have a better idea of what I can and can't do, and then I'll be able to focus on my recovery.

"I'm gutted not to be riding in those races and it's going to be really hard to watch them on TV. To be honest, I haven't had time to really think about it yet because it's been pretty painful 24 hours.

"They are only bike races at the end of the day - and there'll be plenty more chances to ride them in the future."

Stannard went down in a dramatic crash as the peloton sped toward the Baneberg climb in the last 60km of Gent-Wevelgem. He disappeared almost entirely into a ditch alongside the road, only emerging with assistance several minutes later.

"Someone came across the road in front of me from the right and their rear derailleur got caught in my spokes," Stannard explained how the crash was caused. "I thought I'd got control of it but then they looked around to see who they'd hit and that flicked my bike again and I went straight into the ditch.

"That was the first time I've ever had to stay in hospital overnight, and hopefully the last time as well."

The team will also be missing Christopher Sutton for the near future. Sutton injured his left knee in a crash near Kemmel with 40km to go, caught up in the incident along with Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Filppo Pozzato (Lampre-Meridal, while Stannard hurt his back in a separate incident.

Team Sky doctor Phil Riley gave an update, but said the full extent of the injuries would be known after further examinations.

"CJ [Sutton] has a nasty flesh wound to his left knee which has been cleaned and dressed and he's going to fly home to Spain and have it reassessed in a few days' time," Riley said on the Team Sky website last night.

Geraint Thomas also added to his crash tally, but came away relatively unscathed in Gent-Wevelgem. The Welshman crashed out of Paris-Nice after having led the race, but rebounded to finish third in the E3 Harelbeke. He was caught up in the crash with 6km to go behind Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) in the finale of Gent-Wevelgem, but checked out fine afterward.

"G went down heading into the closing stages but luckily he is okay," team directeur sportif Servais Knaven said. "We ended up with four guys left coming into the final but they got held up behind the next set of crashes. It wasn't our luckiest day today but hopefully we've used up a lot of the bad luck ahead of next week.

"The guys are riding well so we just need to keep our chins up and look ahead to Sunday and Flanders."


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