COMO, ITALY, (AFP):- Belgian cyclist Remco Evenepoel has suffered multiple injuries after plunging several metres down into a ravine in a dramatic crash on the Tour of Lombardy Saturday, the one-day classic won by Denmark’s Jakob Fuglsang.
Race favourite Evenepoel lost control on the steep descent from the Colma di Sormano that leads to the race finish at Lake Como, hitting a bridge wall and plunging six metres into a ravine.
The 20-year-old was taken to the Sant-Anna hospital in Como where he remains under observation for 24 hours, but early tests showed a fractured pelvis, right lung contusion, cuts and bruising.
Deceuninck-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere conceded the rider’s promising season was now “practically over”.
“Remco suffered multiple injuries,” the team said.
“(He) was conscious at all times as he underwent a series of examinations to reveal the extent of his injury.
“Unfortunately, the X-rays showed a fractured pelvis and a right lung contusion, which will keep him on the sidelines for the upcoming period.
“Our rider will remain in the hospital overnight under observation, before flying on Sunday to Belgium.”
Evenepoel had won four stage race this season in the Tour de San Juan, Tour of the Algarve, Tour de Burgos and the Tour of Poland last weekend.
And he had been favourite to lift his first ‘Monument’ race on Saturday.
Fuglsang, 35, crossed the line alone after the 231km race from Bergamo to Como, finishing 31 seconds ahead of New Zealand’s George Bennett, riding for Jumbo-Visma.
The Dane’s Russian Astana teammate Aleksandr Vlasov was third at 51sec.
“George Bennett told me while we were riding that Remco had fallen,” said Fuglsang.
“I hope he’s okay, it’s not the way you want the race to finish for anyone.
“In this difficult season with races being rescheduled, I’m delighted to have already won something big.”
Photographs showed Evenepoel conscious but grimacing in pain before being evacuated by ambulance, some 20 minutes after his fall, wearing a neck brace.
The young rider had been among a group of seven at the top of the Wall of Sormano, about fifty kilometres from the finish.
The descent was at high speed with Evenepoel losing control under pressure from two-time race winner Vincenzo Nibali of Italy.
It was the second serious crash in just over a week for the Deceuninck-Quick Step team with Dutch rider Fabio Jakobsen badly injured in a horrifying fall on the opening day of the Tour of Poland.
Jakobsen was placed in a medically-induced coma but returned home to the Netherlands this week after undergoing surgery.
– Nibali misses out –
Meanwhile, German Maximilian Schachmann suffered a fractured collarbone after being struck by a car a few kilometres from the finish line on Saturday but the Bora-Hansgrohe rider managed to get back in the saddle to finish seventh.
The ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’ which is normally held in October, took place in the heat of August because of the rescheduled calendar.
Starting in Bergamo, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy, with over 16,000 deaths in the Lombardy region, a minute’s silence was observed before the race started.
After Evenepoel’s fall, six riders battled for victory.
But Fuglsang attacked on the final climb towards San Fermo della Battaglia denying Bennett a second win this week after the GranPiemonte.
“I knew I had a good chance today,” said Fuglsang after his second ‘Monument’ win after the Liege–Bastogne–Liege last year.
“It’s never easy to win and you need to be lucky to be in the right place at the right time.”
Vlasov added: “With Jakob we did great teamwork, we raced united and always in front and in the end, it paid off for us.
“Last year I finished third from last, this year third, on the podium, a big improvement!”
Bennett added: “I can’t help but feel disappointed. I really thought I could win today.”
Defending champion Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands finished fourth.
Nibali, winner in 2015 and 2017, finished sixth with reigning Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz of Ecuador 13th at 8min 15sec.
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