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.