BMC Racing's Stefan Küng faces four months on the sidelines after fracturing a vertebrae in a crash on stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia on Thursday.
The 21-year-old was one of several riders to crash on the treacherous descent of Crosara, brought down when two CCC Sprandi riders went down in front of him.
His team confirmed that Küng suffered a compression fracture of his T9 vertebrae, an injury that could see him out for 12 to 16 weeks.
"I did not want to take risks and my sport director, Valerio Piva, said not to take risks," Küng said. "I had a little bit of space from these two guys, but then they crashed in a left-hand corner. I tried to avoid them, but they were everywhere on the road.
"I hit the bike of one of them, went over it and hit my head on the ground. I think that is how my vertebrae was compressed."
Küng was taken to hospital in Vicenza, where he is expected to remain for a few days.
"He has no neurological problems and the fracture appears to be stable," Dr. Testa said. "He will be kept under observation, then discharged wearing a brace and transferred back to Switzerland for further evaluation and treatment.
"He will be on bed rest for several days before he can start the rehabilitation process."
Küng has been somewhat of a revelation this season - his debut year. After finishing fourth in the Three Days of De Panne, the youngster soloed to an impressive victory on stage four of the Tour de Romandie.
"I was in the ambulance and the tears were running down," Küng added. "As a sportsman, you always want to keep going. I was looking forward to the time trial every day.
"So it is a shame to finish like this. When they told me what I have, it is even worse because I know I will not be able to ride my bike for awhile. It is going to take time for me to come back. But for sure, I will come back."
Dr Hutch's guide to the Giro d'Italia time trial
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