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Paris-Roubaix is always among cycling’s most treacherous races. Sunday took a heavy toll with a pair of high-profile crashes.
Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) struck the back of a team car while chasing back while Iljo Keisse (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) hit a signpost swinging through traffic islands. Both were unable to finish Sunday and have already undergone exams revealing injuries that will keep them out of racing for weeks.
Benoot’s injuries won’t require surgery but he was lucky he did not suffer more serious consequences. The Belgian was chasing back when he struck the rear a team car, later identified as Jumbo-Visma’s. The car was spotted after the stage with the rear window taped over with plastic.
“After a flat tire, a bike change and my first crash, I was chasing with Wout van Aert,” Benoot said. “At a road narrowing, a team car had to stop and dodge abruptly, causing me to crash into its back window. I have never felt so much pain before in my hip and upper leg.”
Doctors said Benoot suffered a fracture to the tip of his collarbone, but it will not require surgery. Benoot will still be off the bike for several weeks to recover.
“Besides the bruises, the cuts, and the abrasions, he has a large torn muscle in his upper leg,” said team doctor Maarten Meirhaeghe. “The first couple of weeks, he will need to rest, obviously. In case the wound heals well, he could restart training on the rollers.”
That brought a sudden end to another steady classics season for the 25-year-old Benoot, who did not score a win, but notched fifth places at Strade Bianche and Dwars door Vlaanderen, and a top-10 at the Tour of Flanders with ninth.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step helper Keisse was also taken out of the race after striking a signpost as the peloton swung through an intersection. He was taken to a local hospital where scans revealed a fractured left elbow. He was transferred to another hospital and underwent surgery.
“Paris-Roubaix is one of the most beautiful races in the world, but it’s beautiful only when you get through it without any crashes,” Keisse said. “I didn’t see the traffic furniture, which the rider in front of my avoided for a question of millimeters at the last moment, and so I crashed big time, but luckily that yellow safety cushion softened the impact, otherwise it could have been worse.”
A cast will be in place for at least 10 days, but at least he was able to watch teammate Philippe Gilbert win the race on TV from the hospital bed.