Paris-Roubaix start in doubt for crash-hit Sep Vanmarcke

Cannondale’s Classics campaign dealt major blow after Belgian star breaks a finger crashing on the cobbles

Sep Vanmarcke at the 2017 Tour of Flanders (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Cannondale-Drapac’s Tour of Flanders assault came to a crunching end for both its stars yesterday, leaving the team’s Paris-Roubaix plans in disarray.

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Home hope Sep Vanmarcke, and Taylor Phinney — both in their first seasons at the team — crashed out at separate points of the race.

While Phinney was left with a broken helmet his injuries were not serious but Vanmarcke, who took Team Sky’s Luke Rowe with him when he fell, broke a finger and is unlikely to start next weekend. Rowe eventually finished in 120th position.

“Luck is not my share these weeks. Bad crash today, lost lots of skin and a CT scan showed a broken finger,” tweeted 28-year-old Vanmarcke, whose early season has been plagued by crashes and incident. He crashed on the approach to the Paterberg climb yesterday after losing his front wheel in a road-edge rut and ended up DNF.

As Vanmarcke, bandaged and clearly in pain, was ushered away to hospital after the race yesterday, his DS – and brother – Ken Vanmarcke told us: “It’s really not OK when you crash like this, we’re a little bit scared about his hand. And of course in cycling when you crash you lose a lot of skin, and also you have the mental thing. But they’re hard guys, he will fight back.”

Phinney, who has also known his share of crash-induced heartache over the years, fell at 145km after clipping a wheel. He hit the road hard and the back of his head took part of the impact, leaving him with a broken helmet, mild concussion and a ‘DNF’ next to his name in the results.

While unable to race on, hospital scans showed no cause for concern. Phinney, ever dutiful to his sponsors, tweeted: “And there went De Ronde. Thank you @pocsports, my brain lives to fight another day.”

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Said Ken Vanmarcke: “I just saw him and he also lost a lot of skin. He is OK but he also hit the back of his head pretty hard and he was a little but dizzy, but now he says he’s OK. The doctor looked at him and said he was OK.

“[For Roubaix] I think Taylor should be OK. But with Sep that’s a different story.”

It seems it will be down to Phinney to shoulder the last of Cannondale’s hopes on the northern cobbles, before the season moves on and into the Ardennes.

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.