Belgian rising star Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) is recovering after a crash that caused him to abandon his first WorldTour race, the UAE Tour. The team says he came away without fractures.
Evenepoel crashed at 85 kilometres into the 197-kilometre fourth stage. Details are scarce, but the 19-year-old apparently fell on his own.
The team explained that he went to the hospital for precautionary X-rays, which revealed no fractures or breaks. They said that he just had abrasions and some superficial injuries.
“He seemed to be all right but there were a lot of those sharp stones on the side of the road,” Team Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski told Cycling Weekly.
“He was ahead of me by 10 positions, he crashed just alone. There was a swing to the left, everybody was on the right side of the road riding at 50 to 60K an hour.
“It wasn’t during the echelons. It was fast, pretty much every section was with tailwind. It was pretty high speed today. We saw a lot of dust, its hard to see what’s coming and it’s pretty invisible.”
Kwiatkowski finished with a thick layer of dust on his fast, covered by the blowing sand while racing through the Emirati desert. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal)zcapped off the stage with a victory on top of the steep and short 250-metre climb to Hatta Dam.
“I saw the crash with Remco, there was a switch in the bunch then I came past and he was in the dirt,” Ewan said.
“I don’t know what caused it, he was already on the ground when I came past. There was flick in the bunch and a few seconds later I rode past and he was already on the ground. I’m not sure exactly what happened. Then at 4K to go, I heard the crash behind me in the bunch.”
Another crash scattered the bunch as speed ramped upwards towards the foot of the final climb. A number Bahrain-Merida riders were involved, but Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) looked to come out worse.
“Luckily I didn’t see Remco’s crash and we stayed away from the crashes,” race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) said.
“I just heard the last one behind. It’s always dangerous, and my team did a great job to keep me protected.”
Evenepoel wanted to test his legs over the seven days of racing in his first WorldTour race. He debuted in the professional ranks at the Vuelta a San Juan last month and came away with the best young rider classification win.
“I am of course upset and a little bit scared about what happened, as it was my first World Tour race and this is not how I wanted it to end,” Evenepoel later said in a team press release. “But apart from some soreness, I’m OK and nothing is broken, which is a relief. I hope to heal fast and return as soon as possible to the pack”
In the Emirates, he sat 17th overall ahead of the fourth stage. Team-mate James Knox rode to 15th place behind stage winner Ewan and moved to ninth overall.