Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider Max Richeze has suffered an early set-back after he was hit by a car while training.
The Argentinian lead-out man suffered a heavy blow to his knee in the collision, but the effect on his season is not clear.
Richeze, a dependable support rider in the sprints who has built up a respectable palmarés of his own, was due to start his season at his home race the Vuelta a San Juan later this month.
The 35-year-old told Ciclismo Internacional: “I was training on the side of the road, very close to the shoulder, and I do not know why it occurred to me to look back.
“But I saw a car was coming on the shoulder and was going to hit me
“If I did not see the car it could have been much worse.”
Richeze suffered an injury to the knee, but will undergo an MRI to assess the impact.
He did not rule out a fracture or ligament damage.
Richeze joined Quick-Step from Lampre – Merida in 2016.
He has picked up 15 pro wins, including two stages of the Giro d’Italia.
Most recently he surprised the sprinters at the 2018 Tour of Turkey to take the opening stage.
His 2018 season saw him ride the Vuelta a San Juan and Colombia Oro y Paz in the early season, followed by Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse.
He also rode the Tour de France in support of Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria, winner of two stages.
Gaviria has now moved to UAE Team Emirates after Quick-Step had to make cut-backs for the 2019 season.
Richeze, who turned pro in 2006, was due to open his 2019 campaign in Argentina later this month, riding alongside team-mates Remco Evenepoel, Julian Alaphilippe and sprinter Álvaro Hodeg.