• Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) suffered a dislocated shoulder in a heavy crash at the Criterium du Dauphine (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The reigning Tour de France champion, Vuelta a Espana winner and podium finishers at recent editions of the Tour de France all suffered setbacks ahead of the race start on August 29.
By
SBS Cycling Central

16 Aug 2020 - 12:27 PM 

Egan Bernal (Team INEOS) led the bad news for contenders for the yellow jersey in Paris, pulling out of the Criterium du Dauphine ahead of Stage 4. Geraint Thomas said pre-stage that the Colombian was suffering from lower back pain, withdrawing from the Dauphine to get ready for his Tour de France defence.

"He's got a bit of a bad back and the best thing for him is to just take it easy," said Thomas. "It's such a short turn around to the Tour that it's important he gets it 100 per cent right and be good then.

"I don't think it's a major issue, it's just better to be on the side of caution. He's had two races before this as well, so he's got the racing that he needs. It's just about making sure that everything is 100 per cent there and that there are no issues."

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Lennard Kämna (BORA-hansgrohe) was the strongest from the breakaway, powering clear on the final climb to take out an eventful Stage 4 of the Criterium du Dauphine.
A weekend of attacking racing on the cards at Dauphine
The Criterium du Dauphine has a way of throwing up exciting and unexpected results when it gets down to the final stages and 2020 could be a great opportunity for the same thing to happen again!

It was perhaps just as well that Bernal wasn't racing as a number of other contenders were caught up in nasty falls, with a crash on the descent from the Col de Plan Bois. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), Gregor Muhlberger and Emanuel Buchmann (both BORA-hansgrohe) all abandoned the race after the crash.

Kruijswijk suffered a dislocated shoulder, Muhlberger a fractured wrist and Buchmann had severe contusions around his lower abdomen. With Kruijswijk and Buchmann finishing third and fourth at last year's edition of the Tour, both were expected to go into the race and have a good chance at winning yellow, but now there are doubts over their participation and certainly, there has been damage to their preparation.

Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was the other rider to hit the ground hard in the crash, but the Slovenian picked himself up and continued, looking strong when the pressure was applied on the climbs. 

Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) had strong words about the condition of the road and whether it should be included at all on the race route.

"It was a disgrace that that descent was in a race," said Dumoulin. "The whole descent was really tricky but the first two or three kilometres were full of gravel, pot-holes, bumps in the road, 15 per cent drops down.

"That they still put things like this in a race is… well, I'm really angry about it and I'm pretty sorry for Stevie (Kruijswijk) that he has to go home because of this because he was in great shape."

Jumbo-Visma sports director Grischa Niermann commented upon the condition of Roglič after the stage.

"It was a hard crash for Primoz. He was a bit groggy at first. You saw him finish the stage, he was still strong, but he was also in quite a lot of pain, with bruises and cuts, so we'll have to wait and see how he is tomorrow," said Niermann.

It was a bad day for crashes elsewhere in the cycling world, with Remco Evenepoel flipping over the side a bridge into a ravine at the Giro Il Lombardia while Max Schachmann (BORA-hansgrohe) collided with a car driven by a member of the public in the final kilometres.

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Maximillian Schachmann (BORA-hansgrohe) was one of the better riders at the Giro Il Lombardia, just off the front group, but saw his race come unstuck when he collided with an unauthorised vehicle on a descent in the final kilometres.
Fuglsang conquers crash-heavy Il Lombardia
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The Giro Il Lombardia was raced under a cloud after a horrific crash for Belgian star Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) while at the front of the race.