RadioShack’s Lance Armstrong climbed into a team car and abandoned the Amgen Tour of California after a crash early on in the fifth stage.
Armstrong, defending champion and teammate Levi Leipheimer, and Saxo Bank’s Stuart O’Grady were among those to hit the deck in the pileup, which occurred as the road narrowed leaving Visalia and entering orchard country. O’Grady also called it quits.
Other riders who were at least delayed by the pileup included Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Jason McCartney (RadioShack) and Bernie Eisel (HTC-Columbia).
Armstrong appeared to have some cuts, and team boss Johan Bruyneel said he would be taken to a hospital for X-rays.
Team spokesman Philippe Maertens said Armstrong was evaluated by doctors in the team bus who gave him eight stitches under his left eye. He also had “a severe left elbow contusion.” The precautionary X-rays found no broken bones.
“It was a shame to have to abandon early and not be able to help Levi to another victory,” Armstrong said. “It was one of those crashes that put a bunch of us down. I tried to give it a go but my eye was swollen so I couldn’t see properly and the pain in the elbow prevented me from holding the bars for the remainder of the stage.”
Armstrong, who had been using the Tour of California as part of his buildup to a Tour de France campaign, said he would take a few days off and resume training.
“It was a relief to learn there were no breaks,” said Armstrong, who had surgery to repair a broken collarbone last year. “I will take a few days to recover and be on the bike as soon as possible”