Steegmans, Klöden in sick bay

The season is developing a disturbing trend for Quickstep's Gert Steegmans, as he hit the pavement again in Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen. "My fourth fall of the season. It can stop now!" he told the Gazet van Antwerpen.

The Paris-Nice stages winner was riding along when he suddenly found himself flying through the air before landing on a tractor, not exactly the softest landing place. "Fortunately the tractor broke my fall," the 27 year-old said. "But it almost broke my neck. Don't ask me how the accident happened. I really don't know."

Steegmans got up as quickly as he could and back on his bike, "but I felt immediately that I could put no strength on the pedals. It was over." The Belgian came away with bruises to his back and thighs.

Meanwhile, over in Spain, Astana's Andreas Klöden had to drop out of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon with a sinus infection and light bronchitis, for which he is taking antibiotics. In a press release issued Wednesday night, it was noted that Klöden had not felt well since the start of the race but tried to work for his team-mates as best he could. He was to fly home to Switzerland on Thursday to recover.

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