Team RadioShacks Jani Brajkovic suffered a race-ending injury in a day filled with more than ten crashes in Wednesdays stage 5 of the Tour de France. Brajkovic touched wheels with another cyclist on the narrow roads of northern France and came down hard on the pavement, appearing to be momentarily knocked out. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital in Guingamp where a fracture in the lateral third part of the left collarbone and a brain concussion were diagnosed.
I dont remember anything of the crash, said Jani Brajkovic. I remember the moment I was about to crash and then the next thing I remember was our team doctor asking me if I thought I could continue. But I wasnt aware of where I was and which race I was in. Nothing. So it was clear that I had to go to the hospital. Obviously I am super disappointed with this. This is the worst case scenario for me. My entire year was focused on this Tour de France and now after five days its over. But on the other hand, I think I can recover pretty fast and go for the Vuelta and get results there. But still, the Tour de France is something special and its very hard for me and for my heart. Its very sad.
Its too bad because we started with four guys for GC and wanted to try to keep those four guys until we reached the mountains, said Team Manager Johan Bruyneel after the stage. At the same time, this is the Tour de France and riders were nervous all day. Levi was in a crash. Horner had a wheel change and was in the back by himself. Then Jani crashed. Popo waited for him but later he crashed with an ambulance. So at one point we had half of the team at the back. Now we’ve lost Jani, one of our protected riders, which is a shame. But thats the way it is in racing. Truthfully it could have been worse, Bruyneel concluded.
Jani Brajkovic had targeted this years Tour de France in his year-long racing program and came to the start as one of four protected riders for Team RadioShack, along with Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klden. Brajkovic recently won the Slovenian time trial championships and brought good form to this years Tour. In 2010 Brajkovic won the prestigious Critrium du Dauphin in front of Alberto Contador.
I know its just words, but after yesterdays stage I knew I could do my part in this years Tour, said a clearly disappointed Brajkovic from the hospital. The doctor says if they insert a pin in my collarbone I could ride very quickly, after a few days, but my head needs a few more days, so Id say I might be back on the rollers in another five days and after that go day-by-day to see how Im feeling. I might be on the road a few days after that.