Stirling (Australia), January 22nd – Team Bahrain McLaren captain Rafael Valls was involved in a crash in the finale of stage 2 at the Santos Tour Down Under today.
The Spanish rider managed to come to the finish line in Stirling, but as he complained of strong pain in the back, he went to the local hospital for further medical examinations with Team Doctor Luca Pollastri.
Unfortunately, the x-ray scan showed a nondisplaced sacral fracture and therefore Rafael Valls is forced to abandon the race as a result of the huge pain.
Team Bahrain McLaren Doctor Luca Pollastri said: “We will observe him for the next 48-72 hours. Then we will plan next steps. But it is too painful for him to continue the race tomorrow”.
Rafael Valls commented: “It’s hard to accept that injury, because I was in really good shape and highly motivated, with all the team that supported me. But the injury is not so bad and maybe in the next few days I can train again, more or less normal, so that keep me in a good mood for the next races. Now the pain is intense, but we will see tomorrow and with the team we will decide the best option for my health”.
Valls was caught up in the big crash with two km to go, that involved also other two Bahrain McLaren riders, Domen Novak and Marco Haller. Happily, they are both feeling good and they will be at the start of stage 3 tomorrow.
Today’s stage – from Woodside to Stirling (135.8km) – saw the win of Caleb Ewans, that took the uphill sprint ahead of the 2019 winner Impey. Hermann Pernsteiner was our first rider to come to the finish line, in 14thplace.
“It was a tough stage, as we expected. High tempo from the start and crazy speed on the downhill in the last laps of the circuit. It was really fast with every team trying to stay in front. Some crashes happened and I was lucky not to be involved in them, in particular in the big in the finale. The legs are good and I’m optimistic for the next stages”.
As a consequence of Rafa Valls’ abandon, Hermann Pernsteiner and the young Santiago Buitrago will assume the role of GC leaders of the team for the remaining stages of the Santos Tour Down Under.
All Team Bahrain McLaren wish him a fast recovery!
(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Bettiniphoto @Team Bahrain McLaren)
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