Steegmans, Cardoso, Kessiakoff injured in Algarve crashes

Crashes in the Volta ao Algarve put several riders out of the race today. RadioShack's Gert Steegmans and Portuguese champion Manuel Cardoso went down eight kilometres into the 180km third stage to Alto do Malhão on Friday. Francaise des Jeux rider Sandy Casar also abandoned the race after the crash, but his condition is unknown.

Steegmans reportedly hit a car parked on the side of the course and was thrown to the ground head first, breaking his helmet into several pieces. Cardoso was taken from the course with a suspected broken collarbone.

After x-ray checks at the hospital in Faro, Cardoso was found to have a dislocated shoulder and collarbone, but no fractures. He expects to return to competition at the Tour de Langkawi on March 1.

Steegmans was fortunate to escape a more serious head injury, and credits his helmet for saving him.

"My helmet saved my life," Steegmans said. "The helmet was in pieces. I am lucky. I have some minor injuries at elbow and hip, but my head worries me the most. The team doctor will keep me in Portugal to follow up with me. He cannot rule out a concussion. I will have to rest a few days, but as of now, I am confident to be able to start in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne."

Garmin-Transitions' new recruit Frederik Kessiakoff also went down on a descent later in the race, near kilometre 140. A team spokesperson said the Swede could not avoid another rider who crashed in front of him, and he went down into a wall.

Kessiakoff was taken from the course to the hospital where he received stitches to a wound on his face, but, according to his team was otherwise fine and "in good spirits and looking forward to his next race".

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