German Degenkolb and five of his Giant-Alpecin team-mates were involved in a collision with a car on Saturday near Alicante, Spain. Degenkolb, who remains hospitalised in Valencia, suffered a fractured forearm and nearly lost his left index finger.
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
“Of course the classics were a major goal of his, so it is going to hurt to miss them,” Knaven told Cycling Weekly.
“If I were him and his team, I would not set many goals for the moment, first wait and see how much pain he has when he is able to ride again. Keeping in mind that riding on the cobbles is very different from the smooth roads.
“It’s hard to say if he is going to be ruled out of the Classics. I don’t know how long his recovery will take and how much training he could do in the next months. It’s really the least of his concerns right now, the most important thing is that he thinks about his health and recovering.”
Renowned plastic surgeon Pedro Cavadas worked to ensure that Degenkolb kept his finger after the crash. He estimated that last year’s Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix winner will need three months to recover, which would rule him out of the Classics completely.
Giant is reeling after the incident with its thoughts first on the six cyclists’ health. Along with Degenkolb, American Chad Haga is still hospitalised and faces surgery on a fractured eye socket.
Warren Barguil, Fredrik Ludvigsson, Ramon Sinkeldam and Max Walscheid were able to return home, but must think about healing before racing.
“For his sake and for cycling’s, I hope he is back soon,” added Knaven.
“An advantage is that these men are athletes and in my experience, athletes heal quicker. The faster he is back on his bike, the better it will be for his racing chances. It will also depend at what level he was beforehand. Of course, he would not be as strong as last year in the Classics if he were to return this spring.”
A 73-year-old British woman was driving the car, which had a right-hand side steering wheel. Police said she lives six months of the year in Spain, a country popular with Brits in the winter.
“We had a similar thing happen to the Sky team two to three years ago in Majorca,” Knaven said.
“We were lucky as our riders were able to move in time. The driver, a Brit, was in shock and apologised over and over afterwards.”