Australian Robbie McEwen will likely be unable to start the Tour de France after he suffered a heavy fall at the Tour of Belgium on Thursday.
“Now Robbie is in the hospital. His knee joint is OK, but he cut his ligaments under his left knee and the doctors are rebuilding it. It’s almost impossible his participation at the Tour de France,” a team statement said.
“Robbie hit a tub of flowers and fell. He went off to hospital for analysis, said the racer’s sporting director Jef Braeckevelt.
“I am hoping for good news but I fear a serious injury as he has an open and deep wound just above the knee,” he added.
McEwen was later said by his team to have a complex fracture of the tibia
with partial torn knee ligaments.
This latest accident came weeks after the Aussie was left with concussion after a tumble in the Grand Prix de l’Escaut, also in Belgium.
That ended his plan to compete in the Tour of Italy, forcing him to concentrate instead on this race as preparation for the Tour de France.
The second stage was won by Slovenia’s Borut Bozic, which shot him to the top of the overall standings.
The Vacansoleil rider, who began the day third overall, took the leader’s black jersey from Russian Sergei Ivanov after winning a sprint to the line at Knokke-Heist in northern Belgium, ahead of Italian Alberto Ongarato and Australia’s Graeme Brown.
“I wasn’t sure if I would try the sprint because I wasn’t feeling too great,” he added. “But the team put in so much work that I had to go for it. My teammates really gave me a good run-in,” added the 28-year-old, who picked up his first win of the season.
“The most important stage is on Saturday, in the Ardennes, which will be very difficult. But the team is strong and we are going to try and defend the leader’s jersey even if it’s going to be complicated.”
Friday’s stage features a 181.7km run from Knokke to Temse and is geared towards the sprinters.