André Greipel was forced to pop his shoulder back into place and ride home after a training crash that will take him off the road for three months.
The German sprinter was riding with his team-mate and compatriot Rick Zabel near Cologne when he fell and dislocated his shoulder.
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A hospital examination revealed Greipel had also suffered a shoulder fracture and he will likely need surgery to fix a tear in the joint.
The 37-year-old said: “A car came in our direction so we went single file on a small road. There was water and mud on the road and somehow I came off the road and lost my balance. My front wheel slipped, and I slid towards a rock with my head and shoulder first.”
Greipel had a strong start to the season with his new Israel Start-Up Nation team, taking three top 10 finishes in the Tour Down Under, but he’ll now be forced to miss the Classics.
Israel Start-Up Nation team manager, Kjell Carlstrom, said: “It’s definitely a big setback for Greipel and the team.
“He started the season so well in the Tour Down Under and showed what kind of leader he is for the team.
“We already lost two riders for months with severe injuries – Rory Sutherland and Ben Hermans – so it’s definitely bad news and something we will need to overcome but it will not be easy.”
Greipel left his Arkéa-Samsic team before the end of his contract after he spent 2019 struggling with illness, but he has now teamed up with new WorldTour team Star-Up Nation.
The 11-time Tour de France stage winner made the step down from WorldTour level from Lotto-Soudal to French Professional Continental outfit Arkéa-Samsic at the start of 2019, taking an early win in La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in January but struggling to reach the podium since.