Champion System placed two of its key veterans on the injured list this week, with American Craig Lewis suffering a fractured elbow and Bobbie Traksel undergoing knee surgery.
Lewis crashed hard in Wednesday’s Brabantse Pijl semi-classic, injuring his right elbow.
“A crash happened to the left of me — maybe somebody overlapped a wheel or something,” Lewis said in a team press release. “Gerald Ciolek [MTN-Qhubeka] went over the handlebars into me and I went over him. Everybody else landed on the pavement, but I landed on this one little stretch of cobblestones off the side of the road.”
Lewis was scheduled to start the Giro del Trentino in Italy next week. The team did not set a date for the 27-year-old to return to action. He was fitted with a 90-degree cast this week.
“It’s a pretty big bummer because he was an important guy for Trentino and a really important guy for the Amgen Tour of California,” said team manager Ed Beamon.
The injury is the latest in a string of setbacks for Lewis, who suffered more than 40 broken bones when he was hit by a car in the 2004 Tour de Georgia. He broke his left femur at the 2011 Giro d’Italia and nearly lost the leg to an infection weeks later. The two-time U.S. U23 national champion fought back from both injuries to rejoin the sport’s elite.
“My whole spring is a wash now,” he said. “At least I can be fresh coming into the summer and fall and hopefully will be able to show myself then.”
Traksel underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee this week. Pain in the knee plagued his early-season campaign, which included the most aggressive rider’s jersey at the Tour of Oman in February.
“I had already had a few weeks of problems with my right knee and the most important part of the spring was over,” said Traksel. “It was a choice between surgery now or after the season. But to put it off any longer would have meant more problems and pain.”
The team hopes that Traksel will return for the 4 Jours de Dunkerque (Four days of Dunkirk) in May.
“It is disappointing because he ends up missing the races that are most important to him,” said Beamon. “This is especially tough because it is the part of the season where the weather really favors a guy like him.”