The four-time world time trial champion was whisked off to the hospital for a CT scan shortly after he crossed the finish line of the crash-marred stage. Hours later his Trek Factory Racing team confirmed that he had sustained two transverse process fractures, in two vertebrae bones of his lower back.
It is the identical injury he sustained in E3 Harelbeke last March, but this time the L3 and L4 vertebrae on the right side were the culprits, not the L2 and L3 on the left side, which he injured in Harelbeke.
“This is incredibly disappointing for me. The team was on a high with the yellow jersey and were very motivated to defend it. We have had a lot of crashes and injuries since the start of the season, and we finally had a great 24 hours but now it’s back to bad luck. One day you win, one day you lose.” - Fabian Cancellara
It's a big blow to Trek Factory Racing only three days into the Tour de France and a day after Cancellara had claimed his 29th yellow jersey.
The recovery time was lengthy last time around. Cancellara had just rebounded to top form from the March crash that ended his Classics campaign.
“It was very hard to come back in shape after my crash in Harelbeke and getting the confidence,” Cancellara said. “The yellow jersey gave me a huge boost for the cobblestone stage tomorrow. I guess I have to keep the positive and look forward to the second part of the season.”
Despite the obvious pain Cancellara experienced from the injury, he finished the 159.5km stage to Huy accompanied by team-mate Markel Irizar 11min 43sec behind stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
@fabian_cancellara One day you win, one day you lose.but losing the jersey in a crash like this doesnt feel nice. #GameOver #TDF2015