The BMC Racing Team lost Tejay van Garderen to a broken right shoulder Saturday at the Vuelta a España in a crash that forced the withdrawal of several others.
Van Garderen went down in a large pile-up as the peloton was chasing a breakaway inside of 50 kilometers to go in the 182.5-km race. Teammate Peter Velits said the crash was unavoidable.
"We were all around Tejay because we were close to the climb and the final circuit," Velits said. "We were trying to move up and suddenly it happened right in front of us. We did not have a chance to avoid it. That is cycling, but it is never nice to see crashes like this."
Three other riders saw their Vuelta come to an end due to the crash: Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) who was in third overall, Lotto Soudal team leader Kris Boeckmans and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Solutions Credits), who was runner-up on Stage 3.
Van Garderen was riding a second grand tour for the first time in his career. At the Tour de France last month, a respiratory problem forced his withdrawal during Stage 17.
"It is a pity. Our team has lost a fundamental man," said BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois, who directed van Garderen at both grand tours. "This Vuelta was an opportunity to do well for him and for the BMC Racing Team. I am sure he will come back stronger physically, and above all, mentally."
Van Garderen said he is fortunate he was not more seriously hurt but the injuries will prevent him from helping the BMC Racing Team defend its world team time trial championship in Richmond, Virginia, next month.
"I am really disappointed because I think I was prepared to do well in this Vuelta - and above all for my worlds preparation," he said. "But I am also thinking it could be worst. So now my thinking is to recover well and come back mentally stronger."
BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said van Garderen fractured the head of his right humerus when he was involved in a large crash with about 50 kilometers to go in Saturday's race. Van Garderen also has a contusion on the right side of his chest and he bruised his right lung, Testa said.
"He did not break a rib, but in the impact, he had a high speed blow to his lung," Testa said. "The hospital will keep him overnight and Sunday morning, they will re-check if everything is good. As soon as he is able to travel, he will come back to the United States where we can make a plan for his recovery."
Van Garderen is the second BMC Racing Team rider to succumb to injury at the Vuelta. Marcus Burghardt was unable to start Monday's stage after crashing and hurting his left knee and face on Sunday's Stage 2.
Jasper Stuyen (Trek Factory Racing) won Saturday's stage while Esteben Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) kept the overall lead. Samuel Sánchez is the BMC Racing Team's best-placed rider overall. He sits 17th, 2:50 off the lead of Chaves.
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