Greg Van Avermaet abandoned the Tour of Flanders with a suspected broken collarbone after he came down in a crash with four of his BMC teammates shortly before the peloton reached the cobbled section at Haaghoek, with a little over 100 kilometres remaining.
Fellow contenders Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) and Arnaud Démare (FDJ) were also forced out after they sustained injuries in separate crashes earlier in the race.
Van Avermaet crashed with teammates Taylor Phinney, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato and Michal Schär. As the Belgian sat dazed on the tarmac, he quickly understood that his Tour of Flanders was over, throwing his helmet on the ground in disappointment. Van Avermaet and Schär abandoned and were taken to hospital to have their injuries assessed.
Benoot abandoned with 128 kilometres remaining, shortly before the climb of the Wolvenberg. The Belgian youngster hit the ground in a crash that appeared to be caused by a stray bidon, and he was taken to hospital. BMC’s Marcus Burghardt was also forced out of the race due to the injuries he sustained in the same crash.
A little over ten kilometres earlier, Milan-San Remo winner Arnaud Démare (FDJ) was among the fallers in the day’s first major crash. Despite numerous abrasions, the Frenchman initially remounted and re-started, but pulled out of the race shortly afterwards.
Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Geraint Thomas (Sky) were among the riders held up by the same crash, but did not significant injuries and were able to re-join the peloton.
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