Belgian Jasper Stuyven took victory despite suffering a broken bone in his wrist on the eighth stage of Spain’s Vuelta on a day dominated by high-profile crashes.
Ireland’s Dan Martin, who was lying third in the overall classification overnight, and American Tejay van Garderen were forced to withdraw from the race after suffering a heavy crash 50km from the finish.
Van Garderen’s BMC team later confirmed the 27-year-old had suffered a broken shoulder.
Stuyven edged a sprint finish to the line from Spain’s Pello Bilbao and Frenchman Kevin Reza to claim the 182.5km stage from Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia in a time of 4hr 06min 06sec.
However, Stuyven’s Trek Factory Racing team revealed he too had suffered serious damage in the major crash.
“Highs and lows @lavuelta today. Turns out that @Jasperstuyven got his first pro win today with a broken scafoid,” they wrote on their official Twitter page without stating whether he will continue for the rest of the race.
“I didn’t stay clear of the crashes. I was in the big one which Chaves was also in before the first big climb. I hit my wrist pretty bad, but I jumped on the bike again and climbed back,” said Stuyven.
“I suffered a lot on the first climb and then the second time I knew I had to start at the front so I could drift a little bit back if it was going to be hard.
“In the sprint I felt ‘I’ll go at 300 (metres from the finish)’ and it was for me today.”
Colombian Esteban Chaves finished in the leading group to maintain his overall lead by 10 seconds from Tom Dumoulin with Irishman Nicholas Roche a further 26 seconds behind in third.
Britain’s Chris Froome, who is aiming to become just the third man to win the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year, moved into 11th overall, 1min 22sec behind Chaves.
One of the favourites for the stage, France’s Nacer Bouhanni, also had to withdraw due to injuries suffered in the crash involving Martin and Van Garderen.
Stage three winner Peter Sagan’s hopes of another victory were ruined after being hit by an auxiliary motorcycle.
The driver of the motorcycle has been banned from the rest of the tour by race organisers, but the Slovakian’s Tinkoff-Saxo team said they wouldn’t rule out taking legal action for the damage suffered.
“Tinkoff-Saxo announces after stage eight of Vuelta a Espana that the team considers legal actions against the person or persons responsible for crashing into Peter Sagan with 8.2km to go on the stage,” the Russian team said in a statement.
“A Shimano auxiliary motorbike recklessly and dangerously drove into the peloton at high speed hitting Peter Sagan in his rear wheel.
“The unacceptable collision caused Peter Sagan to crash and left the rider with extensive superficial wounds on the left buttocks and leg.
“Sagan was fortunately able to finish the stage but a final medical examination is yet to be made.”
Chaves were also affected by the major crash as the peloton split just before the first of two climbs of the category three Alto de la Cresta del Gallo.
He was led back into the peloton by his Orica GreenEdge team to ensure his hopes of landing a surprising first Grand Tour victory among a stellar field remained intact.
“Normally, when you look on the race book it is an easy day, but it was really hard, really fast, dangerous and with a lot of crashes,” he said.
“The team stayed with me to put me back in the peloton. It was really fast with a small dangerous climb and descent, but I am happy to again be in the red jersey.” – Agence France-Presse