Niki Terpstra (Quick Step) will miss out on the Tour of Flanders after crashing on stage 3b of the Three Days of De Panne and sustaining a broken collar bone. The team confirmed that Terpstra was transferred to the Herentals Clinic where he'll be operated on tomorrow morning.
Terpstra's injury is the latest in a series of mishaps during this start of season for Quick Step, which has so far lost Kevin De Weert, Nikolas Maes, Marco Bandiera and Andy Cappelle to injuries.
"I'm really disappointed for me and the team. The time trial was basically over," said Terpstra in a press release. "I was riding along the final stretch, in a residential area no less, when an unexpected gust of wind blew me to the ground. I couldn't react, everything happened in a fraction of a second. Words cannot express my disappointment. There's nothing left for me to do but wish the best of luck to all the guys who'll be riding in the Ronde on Sunday."
The Dutchman was competing for the overall win in De Panne, and not only did he miss the chance for a result, he will be out for the Tour of Flanders, leaving a big hole in his team for Sunday's race.
"It looks like we'll have to bring in Guillaume Van Keirsbulck," team manager Patrick Lefevere told Cyclingnews at the finish of De Panne. "He's young and only 20 but with some injures and riders having other goals we'll need him."
Terpstra had been in strong form before his crash. In E3 Prijs Vlaanderen last week he was at the fore in most of the day's action and would have been one of Quick Step's crucial riders when it came to taking on Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto).
"With him and maybe and Sylvain Chavanel we could have played a couple of jokers in Flanders," Lefevere said.
"We'll problaby go with eight riders but we've got riders who can't come in because they're either injured or have other goals. We lost a strong rider today who would have made it into the final on Sunday."
Quick Step will still line up with Tom Boonen, a two-time winner in the race – but Lefevere is tipping Chavanel to be in with a chance of becoming France's first winner since Jacky Durand in 1992.
"If you remember what Devolder did a few years ago I think Chavanel is capable of doing something similar. He can do beautiful things in a race like Flanders. Cancellara is the favourite and I'm happy for him to have that role this time.