Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) has withdrawn from the Tour de France after fracturing two of his vertebrae as a result of crashing on stage three on Monday. The 34-year-old will not start Tuesday's stage over the cobbles.
Cancellara was rushed to hospital after the finale of the stage to the Mur de Huy, after coming down in a huge crash 55km from the finish.
A CT scan revealed that the L3 and L4 vertebrae on the former time trial world champion's right side had been fractured in the fall.
"This is incredibly disappointing for me," Cancellara said in a statement issued on Monday evening.
"The team was on a high with the yellow jersey and were very motivated to defend it. We have had a lot of crashes and injuries since the start of the season, and we finally had a great 24 hours but now it’s back to bad luck. One day you win, one day you lose."
Trek manager Luca Guercilena had told reporters after the stage that despite Cancellara finishing, he was unsure whether he would make it to the start of tomorrow's stage, describing it as 'complicated'.
"There was obviously some back pain," Guercilena said. "Now the idea is to go to the hospital and have a scan to see what’s going on, because the local pain is actually exactly where he had the broken vertebrae.
"Hopefully nothing is broken and its just hard hit, but we need to go to the hospital and verify that."
The huge crash, which was caused by William Bonnet (FDJ) touching wheels with another rider in front, was one of the biggest talking points from the stage won by Joaqium Rodriguez (Katusha).
Commissaires neutralised the race shortly after the crash, which saw the likes of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) forced to abandon, with race directors confirming in a post-stage communique that it was due to available medical services being occupied by the crash.
It's a move which allowed Cancellara and others to get back onto the peloton on the foot of the Côte de Bohissau, and is a decision Guercilena says was the right one to take.
"In the moment it was quite a surprise for us," he said.
"But effectively looking at the number of riders on the ground, all the ambulance doctors were quite busy and it was risky if something more happened and you didn’t have any emergency or medical assistance available. I think in the end it was the right choice to make."
Cancellara, who was riding in the maillot jaune after taking on stage two of the race, eventually finished 11-43 down on the winner as Chris Froome (Team Sky) moved into the race lead.
The medical examination confirmed that Cancellara did not suffer a head injury, having looked like he was struggling with dizziness shortly after the crash in addition to suffer from back pain.
"[There's] No head pain, he was just dizzy once he had the crash, Guercilena said. But it’s normal seeing how fast the peloton was going.
"He was standing up and I told him to try and get to the end of the stage. He thought about it and he was quite okay to start again, even though he had pain."
Tour de France 2015 stage four preview
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