Team Garmin-Transitions leader Christian Vande Velde has been ruled out of the Tour de France following yesterday’s day of destruction from Brussels to Spa.
Rain-soaked roads contributed to numerous riders hitting the tarmac on a day David Millar (Team Garmin-Transitions) said was “in my top five worst days on a bike, ever, and that’s a big call considering the length of my career”.
The 33-year-old Briton may become the American team’s general classification contender after Vande Velde was unable to make the start line for today’s 213-kilometres stage from Wanze to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, with the latter suffering from a left eyelid laceration requiring multiple stitches and two broken ribs.
Millar was among the Team Garmin-Transitions team who needed medical attention and was thought to have suffered a broken rib, but was set to take to the road again today.
Vande Velde was yesterday evening joined in hospital by two of his team-mates.
Tyler Farrar, the team’s points classification contender, suffered a sprained left elbow and suffered a significant haematoma and abrasion.
He also fractured his left wrist and suffered multiple other flesh wounds, but was set to resume today.
A third team member, Julian Dean, was also assessed in hospital, but was passed fit.
It was the latest setback for American Vande Velde, who has twice finished in the top 10 of the Tour but in 2009 took a back seat as Bradley Wiggins came to prominence, with the Briton finishing fourth.
Vande Velde entered last year’s Tour with a broken collarbone and this season suffered a similar injury at May’s Giro d’Italia and three broken ribs at June’s Tour du Suisse.
It is the cumulative effect of these injuries which will prevent him riding today’s stage three, which features four cobbled sections from the Paris-Roubaix classic.
Further incident was expected today on a stage on which Lance Armstrong predicted there would be “carnage”.