Belgian cyclist Jurgen Roelandts was being kept in hospital on Wednesday following a crash at the Tour Down Under in which he broke a bone in his neck. Roelandts, of the Lotto team, was one of around 15 riders caught up in a dramatic spill around 800 meters from the finish line of the 149 km stage from Prospect to Clare, won by teammate Andre Greipel. The Belgian was immediately taken to hospital where doctors diagnosed a fracture in his sixth cervical vertebra.
Roelandts, however, is expected to be able to return to action “between three and six weeks”, according to Lotto, who are hoping he will be fit for the Tour of the Algarve in February. His absence from the rest of the six-stage Tour Down Under, the first leg of the 28-race WorldTour series, has left Greipel who took the race leader’s ochre jersey into the second stage with a problem.
“We lost one rider, Roelandts, and it will be hard to defend the title,” said Greipel, a German sprint specialist who won the race in 2008 and 2010. “He’s one of my main lead-out guys, one of the strongest for the GC (general classification) because he can climb and sprint good.”