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MADRID (AFP) — Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) has become the latest high-profile withdrawal from the Vuelta a España after being hit by a motorcycle during Saturday’s eighth stage.
Sagan, who on stage three had ended a two-year drought without a grand-tour win, looked set to challenge for another stage victory until the incident took place just over 8km from the finish.
On Sunday, he did not take the start for stage nine.
“Tinkoff-Saxo announces that, unfortunately, the team’s co-leader at the Vuelta a Espana cannot safely continue to race and will instead return home to recover,” the Russian team said in a statement on Sunday.
“Sagan was hit by a reckless auxiliary motorbike in the final kilometers of stage eight and suffered wounds and burns of first and second degree on the left side of his body, from the hip to the lower leg. In addition, he has a contusion on his left forearm with an intra-muscular haematoma.”
Tinkoff-Saxo also said on Saturday that they would explore taking legal action against the parties that caused the crash.
“Unfortunately, it isn’t the first time such an incident happens,” said Sagan. “Even if motorbikes are forced to go through a group of riders, they should do it very carefully and not recklessly. In my opinion, motorbike drivers don’t take the safety of the riders in consideration seriously.”
Sagan’s withdrawal is just the latest in a number of big names to exit the race after a crash-dominated stage from Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia.
Worst off was Kris Boeckmans (Lotto Soudal), who has been placed in an induced coma after a major crash 50km from the finish.
“The 28-year-old rider has a severe facial trauma with several fractures. He’ll probably need surgery,” Lotto Soudal said in a statement. “Boeckmans also has a concussion, three broken ribs and had a bleeding in his lung. The doctors will now keep him in an induced coma for a few days.”
Teammate Tosh Van der Sande said he had been riding just behind Boeckmans when the crash occurred.
“He was drinking when he rode over a hole, tumbled over his handlebar and hit the ground very hard,” said Van der Sande.
Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), who had been third in the general classification, Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) were also forced to abandon after being caught up in the same crash.
Saturday’s stage winner, Jasper Stuyven (Trek Factory Racing), was also forced to withdraw after he claimed his first grand-tour victory despite breaking a bone in his wrist.