Team Sky took a hit today in Ghent-Wevelgem with four of its riders crashing, two – Ian Stannard and CJ Sutton – sent to the hospital.
“CJ, I saw his knee was open,” Sports Director Servais Knaven told Cycling Weekly. “Ian was in a lot of pain it was hard to say where the problem was but he went straight to the hospital.”
Team Sky said that they will issue an update on the condition of Stannard and Sutton when hospital checks have been carried out.
2009 winner, Edvald Boasson Hagen crashed and had to stop behind other incidents today. Geraint Thomas, third in E3 Harelbeke on Friday, survived most incidents but hit the ground with André Greipel and Tyler Farrar at 8.2 kilometres to race.
“I don’t know what happened,” Thomas said. “Everyone seemed to crash in front of me, I was like, ‘Oh sh*t!’ I just flipped over the bars.
“It’s so stressful out there. Especially today’s race, when a lot of guys are still in the race and up for it. It’s one of the last sort of sprinter races, it’s just sort of stressful.”
John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) won the sprint at the front of a 79-man group after 233 kilometres of race.
Thomas and his team-mates go their separate ways ahead of next Sunday’s Tour of Flanders. Stannard had planned to reconnoitre tomorrow the final kilometres of Paris-Roubaix.
“But that’s not going to happen,” Knaven said. “I stay here now and see how he is. Kurt Van Arvesen is with him and the doctor [at the hospital now].”
The bangs, bruises and possibly fractures are hard for Sky to deal with seven days away from the Tour of Flanders. Knaven ran back and forth between the bus and team car this afternoon. He said that the crashes and subsequent last minute schedule changes stressed him.
Wiggins on Flanders’ start list
Sky, as it stands now, could have to send Bradley Wiggins to race Flanders. In the race’s provisional start list with reserves, it only lists nine: Boasson Hagen, Bernie Eisel, Christian Knees, Salvatore Puccio, Gabriel Rasch, Luke Rowe, Stannard, Thomas, Sutton and 2012 Tour de France winner, Wiggins.
Race officials told Cycling Weekly that teams may change their eight riders and reserves up until 72 hours to race. At that point, they must select from the submitted list.
“Wiggins? I don’t know. It’s too early to think about that,” Knaven said. “You have to be here with eight riders otherwise you pay a fine. Anyway, you need to be with eight riders in a monument like Flanders.”
Wiggins has not said that he has plans to race Flanders. He is due to race Scheldeprijs next Wednesday and on Sunday, one week after Flanders, Paris-Roubaix.
The pre-race favourite crashed heavily with eight kilometres remaining.
Images from the 2014 edition of Ghent-Wevelgem, won by John Degenkolb on Sunday, March 30. By Graham Watson
German sprinter John Degenkolb survives the bergs and crashes to win in Belgium