"He was ready to win the Tour of Flanders but instead he’s ended up in hospital," Valerio Piva said dolefully as he stood in Oudenaarde's main square on Sunday evening. The BMC directeur sportif knows the Classics are a cruel business, but it won’t have tempered his disappointment one jot at the end of a day that saw Greg Van Avermaet forced out of the race when he broke his collarbone in a crash with more than 100 kilometres remaining.
Van Avermaet had lined up in Bruges on Sunday morning as one of the principal favourites for victory in the Tour of Flanders, having seemingly throwing aside the inhibitions that had made him Belgian cycling's nearly man over the past five years.
Five riders down
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