Cycling: Astana derailed by Vinokourov, Kloden crashes

13th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

AUTUN, France, July 13, 2007 (AFP) - The Tour de France campaigns of race favourites Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden of the Astana team are in doubt following their respective crashes in Thursay's fifth stage.

AUTUN, France, July 13, 2007 (AFP) - The Tour de France campaigns of race favourites Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden of the Astana team are in doubt following their respective crashes in Thursay's fifth stage.

Kloden was diagnosed with a hairline fracture of his coccyx, after crashing 107km in to the 182.5km stage and landing in a grassy ditch.

A scan at the local hospital later confirmed his team's fears that he had fractured his coccyx, near the base of his spine.

Kloden, a runner-up in 2004 who also finished third last year, is widely expected to start the sixth stage - on Friday the 13th - but depending on how he feels on the bike the German could be forced to call it a day.

His team manager Mario Kummer said: "It doesn't look as a dramatic as it sounds. He should be able to continue the Tour."

Astana said in a statement that Kloden came down after he was forced to brake suddenly to avoid a rider in front of him.

"But he should start the sixth stage," it added.

Tour de France doctor Gerard Porte said: "Medically speaking, there's nothing to say he should stop riding. But he'll have to see if he can support the pain."

Astana's hopes of seeing their team leader, Alexandre Vinokourov, continue the race are also hanging by a thread.

The Kazakh hit the tarmac while racing at over 60km/h as the bunch continued their pursuit of a four-man breakaway over some tight, winding roads.

After returning to the team hotel, Vinkourov was taken to a hospital at nearby Beaune, where he underwent scans on cuts and grazes, mainly on his knee which has a deep cut.

Vinokourov returned to the hotel with stitches in his knee.

Astana team spokeswoman Corinne Druey said earlier the possibility of Kloden starting could depend on whether he managed to recuperate - and sleep - on Thursday night.

"He's been diagnosed with a hairline fracture. It's very painful, and we'll see tomorrow depending on the kind of night he has," she said, admitting the team were as equally anxious about Vinokourov.

"It's as serious for him as it is for Andreas."

Vinokourov, a third place finisher on the race in 2003 when he rode with Telekom, finished the stage over a minute in arrears.

Astana team manager Marc Biver spoke earlier, and appeared to have already considered the worst case scenario.

"The Tour is three weeks long, and there's a lot of things that can happen. The proof of that is that our two team leaders crashed today. Friday the 13th is tomorrow, so we'll see if the day goes differently for us," he said.

"If these kind of accidents prevent us from contending for overall victory, then we'll put it down to fate. There's not much we can do about that.

"It would be a pity to lose the Tour like that, but life goes on."

Kloden, a former team-mate of 1997 winner Jan Ullrich, finished runner-up to Lance Armstrong in 2004 and came third last year.

As well as the fracture of his coccyx, which he broke three years ago, the 32-year-old German also picked up a knock on his thigh and has complained of a sore hip.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article