Belgian contender Greg Van Avermaet, Arnaud Démare and Tiesj Benoot among those falling victim to crashes in Tour of Flanders
Home favourite Greg Van Avermaet abandoned Belgium’s Tour of Flanders before the final 100 kilometres on Sunday due to a crash. After the domino-like incident with five BMC Racing riders, Van Avermaet sat nursing his right shoulder.
Van Avermaet’s sister wrote on Twitter that he fractured his collarbone.
“It’s been a bad day for us,” said Van Avermaet. “I am disappointed. It was hard for me to be on the ground. I tried to stand up, but when you have something broken, it’s not possible.
“I need some days to think about it, and hopefully I can come back strong. It’s a big disappointment for me. Flanders and Roubaix and Amstel are big races for me, and it’s not a good situation, but hopefully I can handle it. I cannot be there.”
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Van Avermaet was a favourite to win after victories in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Tirreno-Adriatico this spring. Belgium put its hope on him with star Tom Boonen (Etixx–Quick-Step) still racing to reach top form after fracturing his skull last October.
He was one of many already to abandon the Belgian monument. Milan-San Remo winner, Frenchman Arnaud Démare (FDJ) crashed with Geraint Thomas (Sky) after the first 100 kilometres and abandoned.
Promising home cyclist Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) crashed with several others including Tyler Farrar (Dimension Data) at 129 kilometres remaining and pulled out.
BMC suffered the most. Before the major crash with Van Avermaet, Marcus Burghardt quit due to a fall just after Benoot’s.
Despite the numerous crashes, the 100th Tour of Flanders enjoyed one of its warmest editions in years with 20°C temperatures and barely a breeze through the Flemish fields.