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Training crash for Bontrager-Livestrong

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Connor O'Leary and the Bontrager Livestrong team

Connor O'Leary and the Bontrager Livestrong team (Image credit: Glenn Kasin)
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Connor O'Leary poses with the Bontrager Livestrong team

Connor O'Leary poses with the Bontrager Livestrong team (Image credit: Glenn Kasin)

Several riders from the Bontrager-Livestrong development team took an unexpected trip to a California hospital Friday after crashing during a training ride outside of Solvang with team director Axel Merckx and owner Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong and Merckx avoided the wreckage, but team riders Ian Boswell, Lawson Craddock, Connor O'Leary and Charlie Avis hit the deck hard and needed medical attention. O'Leary separated his shoulder, Avis broke the scaphoid bone in his wrist, Boswell required several stitches on his elbow and Craddock suffered bruising and inflammation to a knee. A guest that was riding with the group also suffered a separated shoulder.

“It was probably the highest casualty rate of any crash I've ever seen as far as people being severely injured,” Boswell said after returning from another team ride Saturday afternoon. “Out of the six people that went down, four went to the hospital. I've never seen a crash where so many people were injured.”

The pile-up occurred about four hours into the day's workout as the group of about 15 riders geared up for an approaching three kilometre climb. Riding about halfway back in the bunch, Boswell and O'Leary got tangled up, starting a chain reaction that took out the four riders immediately behind.

Armstrong mentioned the crash to on Twitter, writing “Had a good (and bad) ride with the @BontragerLS team today. Was going great til a massive pile up after 4 hrs. Carnage.”

Both Avis and O'Leary left the California team camp, which is scheduled to end March 29, to head for home and start recovering. O'Leary described the crash and injury as a “small setback.”

“I find out Monday what the quickest way back on the bike will be, whether surgery or just letting it heal,” O'Leary wrote in an email correspondence from Utah. “But I fully expect to be back in a few weeks for San Dimas and Redlands.”

Boswell said the crash is a small blip in what has otherwise been a stellar team camp, the second of which Armstrong has attended this spring.

“It's unfortunate, but it's part of the sport,” he said “It's unfortunate to have it at team camp, but that's the way it goes. It just shows how fragile cycling is. You can be training really hard for something, then you go down on a normal ride and you can be out for five or six weeks.”

The team will split into two squads for the first part of the race season, with six riders heading to France for the Tour of Normandy March 19-25. The other six riders will remain stateside for the San Dimas Stage Race March 16-18 and the NRC-opening Redlands Bicycle Classic March 22-25.

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Pat Malach

Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.