Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) will miss the rest of the spring Classics campaign after suffering two fractured verterbrae in a crash at E3 Harelbeke.
Spartacus, who would have been bidding for a third consecutive Tour of Flanders win, was one of a number of riders to go down on the Haaghoek – Lars Boom (Astana) and Sebatien Langeveld (Cannondale-Garmin) among the other leading riders caught out.
The Swiss ace was helped back on to his bike and rode on but, in clear discomfort, he abandoned and was taken for X-Rays.
And his Trek Factory Racing team confirmed the worst fears, tweeting that their Classics specialist had fractured two verterbrae in his back and will play no further part in the spring campaign.
Cancellara’s injury is the second high-profile injury to hit the spring Classics, with his great rival Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) already out injured after suffering a dislocated shoulder at Paris-Nice.
— Trek Factory Racing (@TrekFactory) March 27, 2015
According to Sporza TV, Cancellara’s crash was caused by an errant water bottle falling on the cobbles.
Trek Factory Racing DC Dirk Demol told the channel: “[Cancellara] hit his wrist and lower part of his back. He couldn’t stay on the pedals anymore. He wasn’t looking good at all.”