Last Sunday night Movistar’s Jose Rojas crashed in the neutral zone of Milano-San Remo. He fractured his elbow and, as such, his day actually ended even further from the finish line than the 294km race distance.
Whilst not the ideal way to start the year’s first Monument (lest we forget the unlucky Spaniard also broke his scaphoid bone on the first stage of this year’s Tour Down Under) Rojas is far from the only high profile cyclist to suffer the ignominy of having a big race ended before it even really started.
As you may recall, three separate WorldTour riders were injured in the final lead-up to the 2014 Tour Down Under and never made it to the start line. Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler had only been in Australia for a few hours when he crashed on a training ride in Adelaide and broke his clavicle, seeing him immediately return home to France for treatment. Just days later Movistar’s Giovanni Visconti and Team Sky’s CJ Sutton were both injured during the People’s Choice Classic criterium, less than 48 hours from the start of the year’s first UCI WorldTour race.
2013 had plenty of unfortunate pre-race moments too, mind you. One saw Lotto-Belisol’s Bart de Clercq forced to withdraw from the Vuelta Espana while placed 20th after injuring his knee in a neutral zone crash before the start of Stage 10. While back in June Chris Froome crashed into a bale of hay whilst the peloton was still negotiating the neutral zone for the very first stage of the 2013 Tour de France on Corsica. Fortunately the Kenyan-born Brit was largely unscathed and in need of little more than a bike change (Sir David Brailsford and Tim Kerrison on the other hand may have been in need of valium). As history shows Froome continued all the way to Paris where he claimed the coveted yellow jersey for Team Sky for the second consecutive year. Bullet dodged.
Kelly keels in the kilo.
For Australian cycling fans over the age of 30 it will be hard to ever forget the colossal disappointment suffered by reigning 1000m TT world champion and gold medal favourite Shane Kelly when he pulled his left shoe clean out of its toe straps before he’d even left the starting gate in the 1996 Olympic Kilo in Atlanta. In an event won by hundredths of seconds, it was game over for the Victorian-born flyer. Kelly would return four years later to claim bronze in Sydney, but his moment in time – at the very peak of his powers – was gone in the blink of an eye. It’s painful to watch but to relive what happened scroll to about 7:35, below (sorry Shane).