Castroviejo crashes into Algarve fan, breaks vertebra, arm

Spaniards Luis León Sánchez and Jonathan Castroviejo crashed out of the Volta ao Algarve, with the latter suffering a broken vertebra.

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A pair of crashes at the Volta ao Algarve has left two Spanish riders banged up.

There’s good news for Astana’s Luis León Sánchez, who is hoping to race at Paris-Nice next month despite crashing hard in the time trial Friday. That’s not the case for Movistar’s Jonathan Castroviejo, who collided with a fan while descending off Sunday’s mountaintop finish. According to Movistar officials, Castroviejo suffered a fracture to the sixth cervical vertebra and to his left arm, and the Basque rider remains in a hospital awaiting more information.

According to Movistar, Castroviejo was descending off the Alto do Malhao to return to the team bus that was parked at the base of the climb.

“A spectator suddenly got in his way and made him collide and fall down,” a team statement read. “[He was] immediately moved to the Hospital de Faro with acute pain in his neck and left arm, medical checkups confirmed a fracture to his sixth cervical vertebra and ulna.”

León Sánchez, meanwhile, is hoping to race at Paris-Nice in early March despite his heavy crash in Friday’s time trial. The overnight leader was easing into a U-turn during the out-and-back race against the clock when he slipped on loose gravel against heavy crosswinds. He landed heavily on his right side, with his face and shoulder taking the brunt of the fall. He was unable to continue, and ended up with a neck brace as an ambulance transported him to a local hospital.

“I’m banged up, with a lot of bumps and pain, but luckily, nothing is broken,” León Sánchez said Monday. “My entire body hurts, especially my wrists, and my chin hurts, and scrapes on my knees. I bled a lot, and people feared the worse, but it could have been a lot worse than it was.”

The crash came just a day after his victory in stage 2, his first win since 2014. Despite the aches and pains, León Sánchez vows to return to training this week and make his next scheduled start at Paris-Nice, a race he won in 2009.

“I had lost confidence, but I was beginning to find it, and I was motivated to win again,” he said. “The victory gives you tranquility of knowing that you’re doing the right things. You go home with something positive. To win again is a step in the right direction.”

Now 33, León Sánchez hopes to return to the Tour de France this summer. He’s won four stages in the Tour, but hasn’t raced there since 2012.

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