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Dean breaks leg in Catalunya crash; Olympics in doubt

Veteran Kiwi sprinter Julian Dean (GreenEdge) broke his leg in an early-stage pileup during Wednesday’s chaotic stage at the Volta a Catalunya that saw nearly 40 riders abandon due to horrific weather conditions.

According to media reports in Spain, Dean went down in the pileup just five kilometers into the weather-shortened stage. He swerved to avoid hitting another rider and reportedly collided with a parked car.

Dean, 36, was transported to a local hospital for x-rays. Early reports indicate a possible fracture, but there was no official confirmation.

Photographs from the race showed Dean grimacing in pain and clutching his left femur.

This was Dean’s first race since leaving Garmin last season to join GreenEdge. Dean was recovering from a broken shoulder suffered during a training crash in New Zealand in December.

Team officials said that Dean would immediately undergo surgery.

“We are especially distraught about this loss,” GreenEdge team director Neil Stephens said on the team’s website. “From a sporting perspective, it’s terrible to lose a rider to a crash. From a personal perspective, we really feel for him. He has had a lot of bad luck this year and Catalunya was his first race back after a previous injury.

“He’ll have an operation tonight in Valencia, his home base in Europe. We preferred for him to have surgery at home to make things easier for him and his family.”

Details of the severity of Dean’s injury are still not confirmed. If serious, it could put Dean’s Olympic ambitions on hold.

New Zealand will have two slots for the elite men’s road race in London.