Along with racing season comes the less fortunate episodes, more specifically where cyclists get injured due to falls and crashes. Now, this is something PRO cyclists don't like to think about, even talk about. They suppress these thoughts, avoiding them as best as they can. I understand them perfectly, it's hard to do a job descending down a mountainside doing 90 km/h on thin tyres having that in the back of their mind. Nervous chatter in the team bus before difficult races says it all, no need to discuss the matter more. Coaches and road captains do what they can prior to the race to get the riders maintain focus.
Pain is a part of a cyclist's diary, we all know that. Pain from climbing a mountain is one thing, from breaking a collarbone and withdraw from PRO racing for a period of time is something entirely else. What is the most common injury a cyclist is exposed to? Leg? Collarbone? Knee? No, it is actually the face, at least according to this site. About 20% of all cyclists' injuries occur to the face. Remember Jens Voigt's face after that horrible crash on stage 16 in the Tour 2009? Here you see the result some days later. That's why we wear helmets...
For cyclists it's never a good time to break the collarbone. Last year Team Sky's Kurt Asle Arvesen crashed within the neutralised zone at the Tour of Qatar, before the stage of that day had started, breaking his collarbone. What a tragic day to the team as well as to him personally. When a cyclist break the collarbone that early in the season, the rest of the season will be affected. For some it could be a good thing if you have the possibility to win the Worlds, but in Arvesen's case, he missed most of the Classics program. Good thing he's back this season with a vengeance.
The famous Italian rider Fausto Coppi broke some bones as well during his super strong career:
Collarbone x 2, pelvis, shoulder blade and a displaced vertebrae were the most serious injuries he experienced.
Fränk Schleck broke his collarbone on stage 3 in this years Tour de France, effectively putting him out of the game for some time. The Saxo-Bank riders and fans watched in horror as these scenes were all over the news that day. Many cycling news agencies said after the crash that under no circumstances would Andy Schleck be able to go for yellow now. Don't know about you but I found this year's Tour to be exciting right to the very end.
The Tour Down Under starts in a few days. Let's hope that the riders stay safe and avoid the worst episodes. The season is long, but the hard work they have done during the autumn will be lost, and new goals for the season will need to be set if they break their collarbone.