Küng Fractures Vertebrae In Crash22. May 2015, Vicenza (ITA) — Road Team
Stefan Küng of the BMC Racing Team suffered a compression fracture of his T9 vertebrae Thursday when he crashed with two others in the last 25 kilometers of the Giro d'Italia stage won by his teammate, Philippe Gilbert.
Küng said he could not avoid going down after two riders from the CCC Sprandi Polkowice team crashed in front of him on the rain-slickened descent of the Crosara, the second-to-last climb of the 190-km race.
"I did not want to take risks and my sport director, Valerio Piva, said not to take risks," Küng said. "I had a little bit of space from these two guys, but then they crashed in a left-hand corner. I tried to avoid them, but they were everywhere on the road. I hit the bike of one of them, went over it and hit my head on the ground. I think that is how my vertebrae was compressed."
BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said Küng was taken to a hospital in Vicenza, where he will remain for several days.
"He has no neurological problems and the fracture appears to be stable," Dr. Testa said. "He will be kept under observation, then discharged wearing a brace and transferred back to Switzerland for further evaluation and treatment. He will be on bed rest for several days before he can start the rehabilitation process."
Testa said it has been his experience that cyclists who suffer this type of injury can return in 12 to 16 weeks.
Küng, the reigning world individual pursuit champion on the track, said he is bitterly disappointed not to be able to continue. He was looking forward to competing in Saturday's individual time trial after earlier this year finishing runner-up to world time trial champion Bradley Wiggins in a time trial at Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde. Küng also was the solo winner of two races: the Volta Limburg Classic in April and Stage 3 of the Tour de Romandie earlier this month.
"I was in the ambulance and the tears were running down," Küng said. "As a sportsman, you always want to keep going. I was looking forward to the time trial every day. So it is a shame to finish like this. When they told me what I have, it is even worse because I know I will not be able to ride my bike for awhile. It is going to take time for me to come back. But for sure, I will come back."