For BMC the traditional opening weekend of the cobbled classics in Europe started well with Greg Van Avermaet narrowly losing the sprint for Omloop het Nieuwsblad on Saturday but the next day at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne was far less successful as Klaas Lodewyck and Taylor Phinney both crashed out of the race with the latter requiring several stitches to his left knee.
Van Avermaet was the best placed BMC rider on Sunday as he finished in 24th place and besides Silvan Dillier making it into the early break, it was a disappointing day at the office with Van Avermaet and Phinney having both placed inside the top-ten on Saturday at het Nieuwsblad.
It was with around 90km left to race that Lodewyck and Phinney both crashed and were forced to abandon. BMC Racing Team Dr Dario Spinelli said Phinney was the more seriously injured of the two, receiving six stitches to his left knee. A chest X-ray revealed no broken bones from where a chain ring had cut across his abdomen.
Phinney was only racing Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne following a bizarre accident to teammate Manuel Quinziato, who injured his left ankle when it was struck by a wheelchair and on the advice of the team Doctor, was replaced by the American.
Now recovering from the crash, Phinney will still have to wait a few weeks before removing his stiches. "I am doing better than I expected. I can already move my knee better today than last night. I have a great support network here in Nice and have spent all day rehabbing," Phinney said.
"I will try to ride tomorrow (Tuesday). At this point, I am taking things one day at a time, but feel after only one day that I am ahead of schedule. I am supposed to keep the stitches in for two weeks total."
For the 23-year-old neo-pro Dillier, getting into the early break ensured it was a day to remember and a small reward after preparation on the parcours.
"To be in the breakaway, with this weather, was fantastic. We had a few days of recon here with the team and this helped me a lot in a few sections of cobblestones and the climbs. It was two good days where I got a lot of experience. For the future, this helps a lot," Dillier said.
Sport Director Jackson Stewart said after the race that the BMC’s chances for victory were hindered by the crashes. "It wasn't the best day because Phinney and Lodewyck and crashed early. That kind of put the first damper in our plans. It wasn't the best day, but we could have had a better day if we had better luck," Stewart said.
Thor Hushovd was another casualty for the team at the weekend as he headed to hospital with a suspected fractured arm following a crash at het Nieuwsblad but x-rays revealed the Norwegian national champion had no broken bones.
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