His arms wrapped around two team-mates as they guided him towards an ambulance, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) was unable to put any weight on his left foot or hip after crashing at the end of Friday’s stage six in the Vuelta a Espana.
One of the first riders to crash when he and Poland’s Michal Golas (Vancansoleil) collided together at high speed, Farrar was able to finish – but at least five minutes after Marcel Kittel (Skil-Shimano) had taken his 13th win of the season – and even then the American was only pedalling with his right leg.
He briefly entered the team bus before two Garmin-Cervelo riders guided him to a waiting ambulance, limping heavily and the back half of his jersey ripped to shreds.
Farrar was far from the only rider affected by the crash, and was almost certainly the one of the worst, although a large number of top contenders were also caught up in the Vuelta’s first big crash this year.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) had a big scrape on his upper thigh, Michele Scarponi (Lampre) banged his left ankle so badly he shouted when a race doctor attempted to touch it, Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega-Pharma Lotto) had cuts on one elbow and one knee, whilst Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) hit the deck but said he was shaken up but ok.
Although all riders involved crossed the line and were credited with the same time, there were unconfirmed reports that Golas had a broken collarbone. The Polish rider was also bleeding heavily above one eyebrow and also attended hospital for a check-up.
Sky said their riders were all ok, although Ian Stannard braked so hard to avoid crashing, his rear wheel blew.
Whatever the damage, none of it was welcome as the Vuelta heads back into the mountains yet again, with two second category climbs and a first category on Saturday’s 177.3 kilometre stage across the sierras west of Madrid.
Although the climbs are far enough from the finish that most of the frontrunners should stay together, the finale – a short and steep uphill finish in San Lorenzo de el Escorial – is another story.
Apparently, although not quite as hard, it is very similar to the tough uphill finish in Valdepeñas de Jaen on stage five and could see the same sort of time differences, too.
Whilst Kittel’s victory is a major breakthrough for the young German in his maiden Grand Tour – only Philippe Gilbert (Omega-Pharma-Lotto) has more wins this season, which says it all – it remains to be seen if Farrar’s injuries are so severe they affect his chances in the World Championships, where he was due to be one of the favourites.
Either way, the crash cast a big shadow over one of the very few bunch sprint finishes of the 2011 Tour of Spain.
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Related links
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
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Vuelta a Espana 2011
: Stage reports
Stage six: Sagan takes Vuelta stage win in controversial circumstances
Stage five: Rodriguez takes second win for Katusha but Chavanel holds on
Stage four: Moreno wins first mountain skirmish at Sierra Nevada
Stage three: Lastras solos to stage and takes red jersey
Stage two: Sutton grabs stage win to set things right for Sky
Stage one: Leopard-Trek win opening TTT to put Fuglsang in front
Vuelta a Espana 2011: TV guide
Vuelta a Espana 2011: ITV4 TV schedule
Vuelta a Espana 2011: British Eurosport TV schedule
ITV to show 2011 Vuelta