CORDOBA, Spain (VN)— Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Sky) pulled out of his final grand tour due to injuries from a high-speed collision with a young boy in Wednesday’s fifth stage.
The veteran Norwegian lined up Thursday morning in Úbeda, with heavy bandages on both elbows and left knee, with hopes of being able to finish the 193.4km sixth stage.
“This is my last grand tour. I am ending my career now and I would like to finish this race,” Arvesen told VeloNews Thursday at the start of stage 6. “I am more or less OK. My left knee is not super. I will try get through today.”
A few hours later, he was forced to step off his bike.
A winner of two Giro d’Italia stages and one in the Tour de France, the 36-year-old confirmed he will not race next season and wanted to finish the Vuelta to help Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins in the overall.
Arvesen recounted the harrowing crash as he barreled into a young Spanish fan who was apparently chasing after a water bottle on the road on a descent during Wednesday’s fifth stage to Valdepeñas de Jaén.
“I got through a corner at a high speed and suddenly I see a kid passing the road. There was nothing I could do. I could not avoid him,” he said. “I was coming down the descent at pretty high speed. I would guess 70kph — there was a roundabout, so I was braking a little bit.”
After the impact, though battered and bruised, Arvesen was more concerned about the child. Spanish wire services said the boy suffered only minor injuries.
“Luckily, he is OK and I am OK — well, more or less OK,” said Arvesen. “My frame broke in four pieces. My helmet was broken.
“I almost gave up. I was inside the team bus and I was sitting there for a while. Then I saw a group passing. I tried my knee, tried to stand on it, to put some pressure on it. I said to myself, ‘I cannot stop like this.’ I tried to carry on and got back to that group.”
With his early exit, Arvesen will be under pressure to start the world championship in Copenhagen, where Norway will line up with defending champion Thor Hushovd and favorite Edvald Boasson Hagen.
“For the worlds, it’s too early to think about it right now. I will see how I am over the next couple of days,” he said. “We will have a strong team. I want to be there.”