The true Classics weather returned for Team Garmin-Slipstream, riding in the 71st edition of Gent-Wevelgem. Chris Sutton and Bradley Wiggins made it into the lead group today after the peloton split. Sutton was able to take fifth in the group sprint, just missing the top-ten in the overall with Wiggo also finishing in the main group.
Behind the lead group the weather wreaked havoc with the peloton. Kiwi Julian Dean took the worst of a crash that involved him and Mike Friedman, suffering a long, deep cut on his left knee. Dean was taken to Torhout Hospital in Belgium. According to team doctor Prentice Steffen he is recovering well from a successful surgery to clean and repair the wound.
Report from Meatball
The race was crazy from the gun, we knew it would be, and after the split occurred 10 km into the race by guys litterally sitting just ahead of us. Fortunately we had Wiggo and CJ in the 30 guy mix. The rest of us were in the first chase group, holding the gap at 20 to 30 seconds. Quickstep didn’t have a guy in the front split so were chasing. Martijn, Will, Cozza, Hans, JD and myself were right behind them when we came to a roundabout. Half went left and half went right. I was following a Quickstep rider through the roundabout and didn’t have time to react as the guy behind me who must have been overlapped with my rear wheel slid out, knocking me down, and I assume JD went over him.
I didn’t even know he was down until I stood up looking at my bike. I had radioed in right away, “Mike down, need bike.” I looked right and saw JD’s face and knew something was seriously wrong. I dropped my bike and ran over to him. I took one look at his knee and sort of freaked out at the spectators attempting to pick him up. “Leave him alone! His knee! Its f**ked, his knee is f**ked!” I kept saying…
I was about to start taking my outer layers off to cover him for warmth when the car finally showed up along with the second chasing group so it was mayhem. JD’s knee was a deep clean gash right across his VMO muscle just above the knee. It was so deep that I could see clear to the bone, as well as other tissue — blood began to pour out of it and finally the race doctors where there to put a compress on it.
I wasn’t sure if I should stay and help or grab a bike and go. I looked at Matt Johnson who I think for one of the first times was in awe at the mayhem — yelled the F word as I grabbed my bike and began the long hard and lonely chase back to the fragmented field eventually taking cover in the feedzone.